Merger forges potentially formidable militant force
Al-Qaida's branch in Iraq and the most powerful rebel extremist group in Syria have officially joined ranks against President Bashar Assad to forge a potentially formidable militant force in the Middle East.
The merger of the Islamic State in Iraq and Jabhat al-Nusra forms a new entity that could be an even stronger opponent in the fight to topple Assad and become a dominant player in what replaces his regime.
The new group, called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, underscores the growing confidence and muscle of Islamist radicals fighting on the rebel side in Syria's civil war. It bolsters the Syrian government's assertions that the regime is battling terrorists and that the uprising is a foreign-backed plot.
While the United States and its European and gulf allies are concerned about the rising prominence of Islamists among the rebels, the merger is unlikely to prompt a shift in the international support. Late last year, Washington declared that Jabhat al-Nusra had ties to al-Qaida and designated it a terrorist organization.
To try to counter the rising influence of Jabhat al-Nusra and other Islamic extremists in the civil war, the United States and its allies have boosted their support for rebel factions deemed to be more moderate.
On the political front, they helped created the opposition umbrella group, the Syrian National Coalition, in the hope that it will serve as the united face of those trying to unseat Assad.
The United States and other countries have stepped up covert support for rebels by helping to coordinate shipments of new weapons and training rebels in Jordan, officials say.
The force is seen as a counterbalance to the Islamic militant groups — chief among them Jabhat al-Nusra — that have proven to be among the most effective of the myriad rebel factions fighting Assad's forces, officials say.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Guatemala president resigns amid corruption probe
- Fake Pakistani IDs card found to be ally for terrorists
- Migrant surge: Europe ill-prepared for invasion of foreigners
- Al-Jazeera English journalists head to prison in Egypt
- Officer killed in Ukraine clash with nationalist protesters
- Hungary stands firm, keeps migrants from trains