Jund al-Aqsa discovers body of its leader
The Islamist militant group Jund al-Aqsa, which fought with Jabhat a-Nusra to push out the Western-backed Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF) from its base in southern Idlib province last week, announced Monday that it discovered the body of its founder in a mass grave near the SRF base.
The SRF captured and reportedly killed Abu Abdul Aziz al-Qatari, the founder of Jund al-Aqsa, during its campaign to evict the Islamic State, then known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham, from northern Syrian in January 2014.
“The body [was found] in a well 33 meters under the ground” in Jabal a-Zawiya, said Jund al-Aqsa in the statement.
Al-Qatari was born in Iraq and fought with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, according to the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. He was reportedly close to Osama bin Laden at one point.
Iranian engineers shot dead in Damascus
Five nuclear engineers, reportedly of Iranian nationality, were assassinated in regime-controlled territory in north Damascus under unclear circumstances, said the monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Monday.
The attack occurred amidst what is perceived to be an energy crisis in Syria, including a shortage of gas, diesel and electricity.
SOHR reported that “unidentified gunmen” opened fire on a bus transporting the five engineers on Sunday, killing them all.
Pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan reported that four engineers were killed and blamed the attack on rebel groups, saying “it is likely that Jabhat a-Nusra is behind the assassination.”
The engineers had been working at a regime-affiliated center for scientific research in Damascus. It is unclear what type of research either the engineers or the center has been working on.
FSA, Nusra capture Daraa city on regime supply route
Rebels with the Free Syrian Army captured the city of Nawa in the northern Daraa countryside Sunday, reported the Saudi-owned daily a-Sharq al-Awsat.
The victory came hours after the FSA, in coordination with Jabhat a-Nusra and other Islamist battalions, announced the beginning of the “Destroy the Wall” campaign to capture Nawa and its outskirts in a video uploaded to YouTube Sunday.
Rebel control over Nawa, located along central regime supply lines running west into Quneitra province, will allow opposition forces to “cut off supply routes from regime sites in Daraa [headed] to Quneitra,” an unnamed opposition fighter told a-Sharq al-Awsat Monday.
Syrian official news agency SANA reported Sunday that “army units carried out a maneuver in the Daraa countryside around Nawa to spread out and reposition [themselves].”
Rebels claim weapons in Nawa, Daraa on Sunday. Photo courtesy of @shbabRevolution.
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis under IS ‘banner’
Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a salafi-jihadi group centered in northern Sinai and responsible for a string of attacks against Egyptian military installations and state institutions, reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) in an audio recording circulated widely by the group’s media division on Sunday.
“A new dawn has risen…with the establishment of a state for Muslims. The banner of unification has been raised, and sharia law has been implemented,” the unnamed speaker said.
“In obedience to God Almighty, and his prophet…We announce our allegiance to the Caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Another pledge of fealty to al-Baghdadi attributed to Ansar Beit al-Maqdis circulated on social media last week, only for the group to deny issuing that announcement a day later in a message posted to its official Twitter account.
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