November 19, 2014
By Brent Eng and Mohammed al-Haj Ali
AMMAN: Warplanes from the US-led coalition bombed the Jabhat a-Nusra-controlled town of Harem in northern Idlib Tuesday night for the third time in two weeks, reported the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Tuesday’s attack, the fourth on Harem since the coalition began bombing Syria in late September, completely destroyed a two-floor building in the town, reported the pro-opposition Greater Harem Local Coordination Committee.
The number of casualties from Tuesdays strike was unknown at the time of publishing, but at least two people were killed in the last Harem attack on November 13.
While the US government has said it is targeting what it calls the Khorasan Group, the bombs in Harem are falling in a town inhabited by civilians, at least some of whom support Jabhat a-Nusra.
“Jabhat a-Nusra, Ahrar a-Sham, these are factions that protect the Syrian people and are not terrorists as [people] claim,” Abdullah Jidaan, an Idlib-based reporter for the pro-opposition news agency Syria Mubasher, told Syria Direct.
Nusra fighters distribute campaign fliers in Idlib. Photo courtesy of @taim1993.
On the ground in Harem, which sits on the Turkish border, Nusra continues to consolidate its rule with Islam-friendly campaigns such as the “Removing Something Harmful from the Road is a Charity” – referring to a well-known Islamic saying.
In pictures circulated by Jabhat a-Nusra’s official Twitter account for Idlib province earlier this week, the group’s fighters distribute fliers encouraging residents to clean up after themselves.
In Idlib, Jabhat a-Nusra “treats people well and enjoys popular support,” a northern Idlib-based activist who goes by the name Hassan Idlibi told Syria Direct last week.
“Jabhat a-Nusra even allowed us to establish a provincial council.”
The Pentagon says it is hitting targets in northern Syria linked to the Khorasan Group.
“The Khorasan Group is a term used to refer to a network of Nusrah Front and al-Qa’ida core extremists who share a history of training operatives, facilitating fighters and money, and planning attacks against US and Western targets,” the Pentagon said in a press release after airstrikes against Harem on November 6.
The Pentagon also cited targeting the Khorasan Group as the purpose for its airstrike against Harem a week later on November 13.
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