Al Qaeda is fortifying its territory and support in Syria and is ramming up to replace the almost defeated ISIS in the country. Intelligence reports in Syria indicate that at least six rebel groups who have been fighting under the banner of Hay’ay Tahrir al-Sham in Idlib province declared mass defection to form another rival Jihadi group.
The six defected factions issued a joint statement pledging allegiance to al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri through its proxy group in Syria called Guardians of Religion Organization Tanzim Hurras al-Din. The rebels are primarily former militants who were evacuated from Damascus, Homs, and Daraa after being defeated by the Syrian Army.
While it is quite obvious that the militants are seeking to align themselves with a stronger caliphate, it is believed that discrimination and unfair treatment is the most motivating factor. Additionally, Al Qaeda has not only offered better and equal treatment of its fighters it is slowing reinvigorating and positioning itself to occupy the vacuum to be left after the exodus of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Moreover, the bold move is a clear indication that ISIS is likely more defeated that indicated or appears following the comprehensive counteroffensives against the terror organization in the Middle East.