Take Last Major City on Euphrates
The Al Nusrah Front for the People of the Levant, al Qaeda in Iraq's affiliate in Syria, may be close to taking control of Deir al Zour, the last major city on the Euphrates River in the west. The al Qaeda group's gains in the city take place just days after jihadists announced the formation of the "Sharia Committee for the Eastern Region" to govern areas under its control.
The Al Nusrah Front has seized control of several government installations in Deir al Zour, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group that closely track the civil war, reported on its Facebook page.
"The Nusrah Front has taken over the National Hospital...which is in the al-Rushdi neighborhood," in Deir al Zour "after violent clashes with regime forces; several of whom were killed," the Syrian Observatory reported yesterday. "Rebels also took over the industrial institute earlier today after violent clashes with regime forces, several were killed there."
The Syrian military is firing rockets and mortars into several neighborhoods, the human rights organization stated. The "bombardments" indicate that the neighborhoods are no longer under Syrian government control.
"The regime bombarded the Matar al-Qadim, al-Ummal, al-Huweiqa and al-Hamidiya neighborhoods, the Sitta ila Rubu' area of the city was also bombarded. Clashes took place in the Sina'a neighborhood," the Syrian Observatory continued.
The Al Nusrah Front and allied jihadist groups have been active in Deir al Zour. Late last year, the Al Nusrah Front banded together with nine other Islamist groups to create the "Mujahideen Shura Council" in the city.
The Mujahideen Shura Council in Deir al Zour was formed to "unite the ranks of the jihadi brigades in the Cause of Allah, organize the efforts and the attacks against the soldiers of disbelief and apostasy, and distinguish the ranks of truth from falsehood," according to a statement released by the group in December 2012. The statement was obtained and translated by the SITE Intelligence Group...
The Al Nusrah Front in Deir al Zour is following al Qaeda in Iraq's strategy to unite disparate jihadist groups. In the summer of 2006, al Qaeda in Iraq also formed a Mujahideen Shura Council to coordinate operations with various other jihadist groups in Iraq. Later that year, al Qaeda in Iraq formed the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) to serve as the political front, and the Mujahideen Shura Council was folded in under the ISI's military wing.
The Al Nusrah Front and allied groups are consolidating their control over the Euphrates River Valley, while Al Nusrah is securing its lines of communications with its parent, al Qaeda in Iraq. The cities of Raqqah and Thawra are now under Al Nusrah's control, and the group has established sharia, or Islamic law, in smaller towns, such as Mayadin along the river. Abu Kamal is under the control of the Free Syrian Army, but the Al Nusrah Front maintains influence in the border town. Abu Kamal has long been a rear base for al Qaeda in Iraq.
READ FULL SOURCE ARTICLE: 03/13/2013
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