The making and rise of al-Nusra Front

The making and rise of al-Nusra Front
2 min read
01 July, 2016
Syria's al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front's die-hard fighters have made it one of the strongest groups among Syrian rebels. The New Arab gained footage of members talking about why they joined.
In 2011, the Syrian revolution began as people across the country took to the streets and demanded the downfall of the regime. When bullets hit protesters, disillusioned soldiers broke ranks and joined the crowds, protecting them with their weapons.

Since then, a bloody and merciless military campaign against the Syrian people by Bashar al-Assad's regime has seen Islamist groups take a leading role in the revolt.

Perhaps the best organised and most effective rebel outfit is al-Nusra Front, Syria's al-Qaeda affiliate [video below] which is taking a leading role in the war.

Armed fighters from the group are fighting the Syrian regime, Islamic State group and Kurdish militias - and sometimes absorbing or destroying other rebel groups - across the country.

Despite being nearly destroyed by IS earlier in the war, they have emerged as probably the strongest group in the rebel camp, and fighting to replace the Assad regime with an Islamic state.

The leadership's stronghanded tactics and abhorrence for democracy has seen fighters clampdown on moderate rebel groups and Syrian activists leading to mass demonstrations against their rule.

But many Syrian civilians also view them as a necessary evil and know that the al-Qaeda fighters are often all that stands between them and murderous pro-regime militias.

The New Arab spoke to former members of al-Nusra Front, to see why they joined the al-Qaeda affiliate and what their vision is for a post-Assad Syria.