Al-Qaeda's Syrian Strategy

(Foreign Policy) Barak Barfi and Aaron Y. Zelin - Al-Qaeda is storming across northern Syria. Last month, the al-Qaeda affiliate the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) captured the city of al-Bab - one of the largest in the region - from a rival rebel militia in the northern province of Aleppo. ISIS also took the towns of Azaz and Jarablus, which straddle Syria's border with Turkey. The first thing ISIS did in these places was hang its black flag from the top of the highest building. After that, it began to gradually impose its strict interpretation of Islamic law. ISIS is thought to number 5-6,000 fighters, but many of its members have previously fought in other jihads, including in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Libya. Syrian society merely wants to survive a war - not adhere to al-Qaeda's severe strictures. Some Syrians have taken to the street to protest against ISIS. In the northern province of Raqqa, protesters have gathered in front of ISIS headquarters in the capital since mid-June, calling for the group to leave the city. Barak Barfi is a research fellow at the New America Foundation. Aaron Y. Zelin is a fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

2013-10-11 00:00:00

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