Syrian government forces allied with Moscow has become the best cover for an Al Qaeda affiliate group to function in Syria and plot attacks against the West. This has been confirmed by the American counter-terrorism officials who are worried about how the affiliate group is getting to exploit the loopholes in a chaotic security situation in Syria’s northwestern region.
Emerging as recently as in 2018, the Hurras al-Din is a successor to the Khorasan Group which was literally out through repeated airstrikes done by the United States. But with a few key leaders having survived the newly emerging group is growing significantly is power and size. It is known to have spread to West Africa, Somalia, Yemen, and Afghanistan but Syria remains the lynchpin.
A significant point that goes in the group’s favor is their hideouts in Syria that is shielded by Russian air defenses. This has made a point of conflict with the US. Moscow is said to have dispatched military aid and advisers to Syria in late 2015 to support the beleaguered government of President Bashar al-Assad. This has gone in the favor of Hurras-al-Din whose allegiance lies with Assad.
However, political analysts have said that Al-Qaeda has been working quietly to reconstruct itself, as it has let ISIS take the brunt of most of the public strikes in the country. It is today, home to some of the best foreign militia, much more in the know-how of terrorism than the other extremist groups that are a function from within Syria.
America fears the Hurras-al- Din more and they are not hiding the fact. Recently, the Trump administration has stepped up diplomatic and intelligence-gathering efforts against Hurras al-Din. In September, the State Department has already designated Hurras al-Din as a terrorist organization and has offered a reward of up to $5 million each for information on three of the group’s leaders who “have been active in Al Qaeda for years and remain loyal” to Mr. Zawahri.
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