After the breaking news that Russia’s parliament had approved air strikes in Syria, BBC News went on to loosely describe the complicated situation developing and groups associated with it.
Currently there seems to be a focus on President Assad’s forces on the one hand, IS on the other with a few moderate rebels in between.
The reality is far more complicated and troubling. There are many fundamentalist Islamic groups operating in Syria with influence, military capabilities and who hold similar views to IS.
Following Russian airstrikes the US has claimed that the areas targeted by the Russians ‘do not appear to be under IS control’ and are targeting ‘moderate groups’.
To add a bit of clarity to this, IS is not the only extreme group fighting in Syria and defining ‘moderate groups’ is extremely difficult.
Below you will find information on a few extreme groups known to be fighting in Syria with links to help.
The Army of Conquest: This is a coalition of groups consisting of Jabhat al-Nusra (al Qaeda’s branch in Syria), Ahrar al Sham, Jund al-Aqsa, Liwa al-Haqq, Sham Legion, Jaysh al-Sunna
This coalition has made significant gains recently (see related blogs in the relevant category) against the Syrian Arab Army (and associated militias) and are proving to be an effective fighting force.
- This link (Daily mail article) gives a disturbing impression that the coalition is palatable because there are some ‘moderate groups’ within the alliance. I’m not sure how this term can be used considering they are working closely with al-Qaeda linked groups.
- Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar (JMA, Army of Emigrants and Supporters). This group is made up of fighters from Syria, Saudi Arabia, Libya and the Caucasus region.