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29.03.2017

"Jihadists" carry the war in Syria city

Last week was marked by a sharp increase in terrorist activity around the cities of Damascus, Homs, Hama, and the advent of militant groups, "Hayat Tahrir al-Sham '(its basis is made by troops of the former" Dzhabhat en-Nusra ") in the Syrian capital. For this aggravation is seen a clear desire jihadis and those who support them from abroad, not only to disrupt the peace process, which is sponsored by Russia, Turkey and Iran, but also to participate in the division of spheres of influence in Syria, imposing on the country a model section of power and territory.

Over the past two months, four unprecedented terrorist attacks have taken place in Damascus and Homs. At the end of January, two suicide bombers carried out a self-explosion in the Kafr Sousa micro-district of Damascus, of which 11 people were the victims. 25 February, during the attacks of suicide bombers in Homs killed 32 man, including the head of the Syrian military intelligence of General Hassan Daabul, close to Bashar Assad. In the course of the attack, another of the leaders of the Syrian special services, Brigadier General Ibrahim Darwish, was wounded. 11 March, as a result of the terrorist attack in the Damascus region of Bab Sugir, 74 people were killed, including 43 Shiite pilgrims from Iraq. This area is famous for the fact that there is the world-famous Shiite tomb Sayida Zeynab. Finally, 15 March there was an attack in the Palace of Justice in Damascus, as a result of which 31 was killed and 60 was injured. A few hours later an explosion occurred in the Damascus district of al-Rabwe.

It can be seen that the tactics of jihadists in Syria are changing. They are increasingly hoping for success on the battlefield and are moving the war to cities, making their main target civilians and trying to prove to the Syrians that the government is not able to ensure their safety. During all six years of the war, Damascus remained an island of relative calm in the sea of ​​Syrian turmoil. Now the terrorists are trying to change this picture. Something similar is observed in Iraq. As the Iraqi government established control over Ramadi, Fallujah and eastern Mosul, the terrorist attacks in Baghdad began to increase and become more extensive. One of the ideologists of the terrorist "Islamic State" (IG), banned in Russia, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, who died in October 2016, shortly before his death called for the transfer of the war to the streets of the cities of the "Crusaders", that is, to Europe. Prior to European cities, the paws of terrorists have not really reached out yet, but the fighting is already being carried to the streets of Baghdad and Damascus.

The activation of suicide bombers coincided with the emergence of the most famous living ideologues of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi in the south of Syria. His real name is Isam Mohammed Al-Barkawi. He was born in 1959 year in Nablus in Palestine, lived in Kuwait, studied at the University of Mosul (Iraq) and in Saudi Arabia. At the end of the 1980-ies, he participated with Osama bin Laden in the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan. There he became acquainted and became friends with Abu Musab Zarqawi, who later became the first leader of Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia. At 1995-1999, McDisie, along with Zarqawi, served time in a Jordanian prison. Zarqawi was accused of organizing explosions in several hotels in Amman, and McDeesay was that they were their ideological inspirer. At the beginning of 2000-ies, McDeesey was again in prison. By that time, he was developing a concept of superiority of individual terror using suicide bombers. In 2009, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi received a five-year sentence after an interview with Al Jazeera, in which he urged jihadists to travel to Afghanistan to participate in the war against the US troops. After his release from prison, he moved to Syria, where he exerted a strong influence on the activities of the Islamic State.

Since the end of 2016, Macdisi already operates in the south of Syria, where he patronizes the "Khalid ibn Walid Army". This armed formation of Islamist militants is named in honor of the legendary commander of the first years of the Arab Caliphate, who subdued Syria to the Arabs and spread Islam there. After the appearance of the Khalid ibn Walid Army, militant actions in southern Syria, particularly in the province of Deraa, have become much more bold and well-coordinated. Until 2016 in the south of the country, the units of the so-called Southern Front, an umbrella structure, guarded by the Jordanian special services, and uniting up to 60 small detachments of the moderate moderate armed opposition prevailed. However, since the fall of 2016, radicals have begun to dominate here. With the advent of McDisie in southern Syria, funding for jihadists has improved significantly. Currently, each insurgent receives up to 350 dollars per month, which is higher than in competing organizations. There is no doubt that foreign forces have invested in the activation of militants in southern Syria. Perhaps it is Saudi Arabia and Qatar, who are dissatisfied with the fact that they were actually pushed back from the negotiation process in Astana, and their proteges can be circumvented in the settlement process.

Another manifestation of increased activity of jihadists was the attack on Damascus, undertaken 21 March. Militants from the organization "Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham" in the number of two and a half thousand people made a breakthrough to the microdistricts of Jobar and Kabun and reached Abbasid Square, located two kilometers from the historical center of Damascus. The invasion was accompanied by massive rocket attacks on peaceful quarters. Recall that the group "Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham" emerged in late January this year after the split of the group "Ahrar ash Sham", when the most radical part of it left the Turkish guardianship and joined the former "Jabhat al-Nusra", announcing an irreconcilable war both to the Syrian government and to more moderate groups. This offensive was unprecedented in impudence and scope. After all, until six years ago, militants never succeeded in invading the Syrian capital; fighting arose in the vicinity of Damascus, but the situation in the city itself remained relatively calm, it accumulated about three million people who fled from the horrors of war from other parts of the country. The streets of Damascus even in the most difficult days were crowded with people, they were busy trading. And after recent attacks and rocket attacks, the central regions of the Syrian capital were empty for the first time for several days.

The escalation of terrorist activity in the metropolitan area suggests that the forces seeking by all means to disrupt talks on Syria, does not intend to renounce it. They insist on the withdrawal of Syrian troops and all foreign volunteers, including units of the movement "Hezbollah"; while in the "jihadis" ranks continue to fight many foreign volunteers and foreign instructors are.

A source: Strategic Culture Foundation

Author: Aleksandr Kuznetsov

Tags: Syria, the war in the Middle East, terrorism, militants, al-Qaeda, the Middle East, analysts