This video features a declaration on the part of several Islamist militant rebel groups operating in Aleppo, notably including Jabhat al-Nusra, Ahrar ash-Sham, Liwaa al-Tawhid, Ahrar Souria, Harakat al-Fijra al-Islamiya and Liwaa Jaysh Mohammed. They call for the creation of an ‘Islamic state’ and reject the newly formed Syrian National Coalition, which is based outside Syria and has Syria National Council (SNC) members- primarily of Muslim Brotherhood orientation- as the plurality of its composition. It has been alleged that the people in the video are not necessarily official representatives of the jihadist groups in Aleppo.
In any case, the video does demonstrate the point I have made elsewhere about the localisation of the jihadist phenomenon in Syria. That is, rather than seeing these hardline Islamist types as being in huge numbers throughout the country, we should appreciate that the jihadists are primarily concentrated at pinpoints in the country: specifically, the areas of Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor. This is why I predicted last month that one could well see al-Qa’ida-aligned groups establishing extortion networks- similar to what al-Qa’ida in Iraq does in Mosul- in Aleppo and Deir ez-Zor.
While battalions operating under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and generally consisting of rural, Islamist fighters from the countryside around Aleppo have been working with the likes of Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria’s largest city on account of the jihadist group’s firepower, it is to be noted that the head of the FSA military council in Aleppo has distanced himself from the statement released by the jihadists in the video linked to above.
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a student at Brasenose College, Oxford University. His website is http://www.aymennjawad.org