ISIS, Al-Qaeda branch group in Syria agree to act together – report

ISIS, Al-Qaeda branch group in Syria agree to act together – report
The Islamic State has reportedly struck a deal with the Al-Nusra Front. The two groups agreed to stop fighting each other and instead join efforts against their opponents, AP reported, citing “a prominent Syrian opposition official and a rebel commander.”

According to the news agency, the two groups met on November 2 at a farmhouse in northern Syria.

The Syrian opposition official, who insisted on anonymity, told AP from Turkey that the meeting – which took place in the town of Atareb, west of Aleppo – started at around midnight and lasted until 4 a.m. The official said that about seven top militant leaders attended and insisted that “an agreement was reached.”

AP’s second source, known as Abu Musafer – a commander of brigades affiliated with the Western-backed Free Syrian Army – also said he was aware of the meeting. While Abu Musafer did not disclose the location, he said the meeting was organized by a third party.

Abu Musafer said that two decisions were reached. The first is to halt infighting between Nusra and IS, and the second is that the two groups work together against Kurdish fighters in a couple of new areas of northern Syria.

According to the official, the meeting was attended by: an IS representative; two emissaries from the Al-Nusra Front; conservative Muslim rebel group Ahrar al-Sham; members of the Khorasan Group, an Al-Qaeda-affiliated group of veterans from Afghanistan and Pakistan; and Jund al-Aqsa, an Islamist militant group that has sworn allegiance to IS.

The official also said that IS and Al-Nusra agreed to fight and eliminate the Syrian Revolutionaries Front (SRF) – an anti-government battalion that has reportedly received support from the United States and other Western nations opposed to the Assad regime.

At the end of September, the Al-Nusra Front – which is linked to Al-Qaeda – issued an audio message featuring its leader, who warned that the West “will pay the heaviest price” for its actions.

READ MORE: ISIS+Al-Nusra Front? Islamists reportedly join forces, new threat against West issued

Although the two groups had fought a bitter battle on the sidelines of the broader Syrian conflict against President Bashar Assad’s forces, a senior Al-Nusra Front source told the Guardian in September that a series of war planning meetings were underway.

The agreement between the jihadists may significantly challenge the US-led coalition airstrike campaign that has been aiming to cripple the Islamic State's funding sources in order to slow its progress in Syria and Iraq.