Al-Qaeda has permitted its branch in Syria, al-Nusra Front, to break relations with the terror group, in move that could pave the way for greater foreign support for the Takfiri Nusra terrorists who are wreaking havoc in the country.
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri issued the permission in a Thursday audio statement directed to Nusra Front.
“You can sacrifice without hesitation these organizational and party ties if they conflict with your unity and working as one body,” Zawahiri said, adding, “Your unity and unification is more important to us than any organizational link.”
Nusra Front was set up shortly after foreign-sponsored militancy erupted in Syria in 2011.
Originally supported by Daesh, Nusra Front split from the Takfir terrorist group in 2013.
Nusra Front was excluded from Syria’s February cessation of hostilities. This is while Russia and the US are discussing closer coordination to target the terrorist group, which has been committing heinous crimes in the Arab country.
Last year, informed sources told Reuters that Nusra leaders considered cutting links with al-Qaeda to form a new entity backed by some Persian Gulf Arab countries such as Qatar seeking to oust the government of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.
Distancing Nusra Front from al-Qaeda removes legal obstacles to supporting the former.
Intelligence officials from some Persian Gulf states have reportedly met Nusra leader Abu Mohammad al-Julani several times in the past few months to encourage him to abandon al-Qaeda and to promise funding for his terror outfit once it distances from al-Qaeda.
“A new entity will see the light soon, which will include Nusra and Jaysh al Muhajereen wel Ansar and other small brigades,” said Muzamjer al-Sham, an extremist figure close to Nusra and other militants groups active in Syria.
Sources within Nusra said recently that the terrorist group would change its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.
The Takfiri elements operating in Syria have suffered major setbacks over the past few months as the army has managed to liberate a number of areas from the grip of the extremists.
United Nations Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict. The UN has stopped its official casualty count in the Middle Eastern state, citing its inability to verify the figures it receives from various sources.