New Syrian jihadist alliance vows to step up attacks against army
Hashem al-Sheikh, leader of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which was formed last month, also said in his first video speech that the new grouping sought to "liberate" all of Syria's territory.
"We assure our people that we will begin our project by reactivating our military action against the criminal regime and we will raid his barracks and positions and wage a new battle of liberation," he said.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, or Body for the Liberation of the Levant, was created from a merger of Jabhat Fateh al Sham - formerly al Qaeda's Nusra Front - and several other groups.
The jihadist alliance has enlisted thousands of fighters who have defected in recent weeks from more moderate Free Syrian Army rebel groups, angered by their leaders' readiness to engage in a peace process with Assad's government.
READ MORETurkish-led forces advance into outskirts of Syrian city
Islamic State encircled in Syria\'s al-Bab after army advance
Syria carried out mass hangings at military prison
Days before the alliance came into being, heavy fighting erupted in northwestern Syria between Fateh al Sham and more moderate rebel groups, threatening to further weaken the opposition to Assad in its biggest territorial stronghold.
The jihadists said they had been forced to act preemptively to "thwart conspiracies", accusing rebels attending peace talks in Kazakhstan of conspiring against them.
Sheikh said the new alliance would form "one entity" to spearhead the military and political work of the anti-Assad forces, saying international peace efforts aimed to "abort the revolution" and reward Assad for his "crimes" against Syrians.
"We seek to bring together the Syrian arena within one entity under a unified leadership to bring down the criminal regime," he added.
But many smaller rebel groups fearing that the new jihadist groups' growing influence could pose a threat to their existence have turned to protect themselves by merging with the powerful Islamist Ahrar al Sham group, a rival of the former Qaeda affiliate.
Mounting tensions in several rebel-held areas have spilled over in recent days in skirmishes among hardline Islamist groups affiliated to the new alliance and some FSA groups.
FSA groups, alongside jihadist groups including those operating under the umbrella of the new alliance, however still wage joint battles against the Syrian army despite deep ideological differences and turf wars.
They launched a new military campaign in the coastal province of Latakia, a bastion of Assad's Alawite minority against the army.
Top stories this week
- Damen and SA Shipyards in the lead to build new Navy hulls
- Transporter rolls on Oliviershoek Pass, loses Olifant main battle tank
- SANDF personnel killed in Naval Base Durban accident
- Five SA Navy vessels in Durban for Armed Forces Day, but no frigate
- Mapisa-Nqakula has ordered an investigation into military deployment at SONA
- Islamic State readies for close combat in alleyways of west Mosul
- Islamic State posts video of man it says was Egypt church bomber
- Islamic State moves to Libya’s desert valleys after Sirte defeat
- New Syrian jihadist alliance vows to step up attacks against army
- Turkish-led forces advance into outskirts of Syrian city
- Iraqi forces wage psychological war with jihadist corpses
- Islamic State sees chance to revive fortunes in Trump presidency
- Syria carried out mass hangings at military prison
- Fear in interrogation room, death in the street: Iraq roots out Islamic State
- Islamic State extending attacks to Egyptian heartland
Saab partners with Hindustan Aeronautics for transfer of technology
by Saab, 20 February 2017
Saab Grintek Defence and HAL's Avionics Division have signed a contract to deliver transfer of technology between SA and India.
Alaris Antennas experiences unprecedented success with DF-A0037
by Alaris Antennas, 17 February 2017
The DF-A0037 is a vehicle and marine-based direction-finding antenna solution suitable for rugged applications.
Successful launch, delivery of 27m ferry
by Nautic Africa, 17 February 2017
Nautic celebrates the launch of the first 27m ferry for its partners in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, CITRANS.