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Alleged Islamic State affiliate in south Syria still viable after Nusra wipes out top leadership

AMMAN: Days after the assassination of a top Liwa Shuhadaa […]

1 December 2015

AMMAN: Days after the assassination of a top Liwa Shuhadaa al-Yarmouk (LSY) commander, the suspected Islamic State affiliate demonstrated its organizational resilience on Monday by carrying out three simultaneous car bomb and IED attacks against Jabhat a-Nusra’s leadership, reportedly wounding one commander, in southern Syria.

LSY and Jabhat al-Nusra have skirmished since late 2014, with tit-for-tat assassination operations picking up this month. On November 8, LSY claimed an assassination attempt on Nusra security commander Rami Abu Auwan in a roadside IED attack in the eastern Daraa countryside. Nusra in turn assassinated the leader of LSY Muhammad “Abu Ali” al-Baridi, also known as al-Khal (the Uncle) along with several of his top associates, in a suicide attack on November 15.

Monday’s double car bombing and same-day roadside IED attack is the first of its kind in the wake of al-Baridi’s death, demonstrating that LSY is still capable of launching coordinated attacks against high-level Nusra targets, even in the absence one of its most prominent commanders.

“Two LSY car bombs targeted Nusra’s leadership in Quneitra Village–the first struck Nusra’s headquarters, while the second exploded just outside another of their bases,” a Quneitra eyewitness, who wished to remain anonymous, told Syria Direct on Tuesday.

As LSY car bombs exploded in Quneitra on Monday, the alleged IS-affiliate detonated a roadside IED targeting a Nusra vehicle in the town of Inkhil, 43km northwest of Daraa, on the same day, a Quneitra-based rebel source who requested anonymity told Syria Direct Tuesday. It was not clear why LSY chose this third location.

LSY’s Quneitra headquarters attack reportedly wounded Nusra commander Abu Mansour, said the rebel source. Syria Direct was unable to independently verify whether LSY fighters piloted either car bomb.

Although pro-regime news site War Media claimed on Monday that the LSY attack wounded Abu Mansour, a Nusra-linked Twitter account reported only women and children were wounded in the Quneitra explosion. Quneitra province, located in southwest Syria, borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

 “Destruction wrought by the (IS) car bomb in Quneitra Village,” reads the caption of a Nusra image, using the anti-IS term “Kharijite.” Kharijites, or “those who went outside [Islam],” refers to a seventh-century school of Islam noted for rebelling against Muslim leaders, and for its unorthodox practice of takfir, or excommunication.Source: Jabhat al-Nusra. Available on Twitter.

The antagonism between Jabhat a-Nusra and LSY is a result of Nusra’s perception of LSY as an IS affiliate. Although LSY has yet to officially claim affiliation to IS, LSY has incorporated the IS flag into its logo, and operates an IS-styled administration in the Yarmouk Valley.

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