Head of new Syrian jihadist alliance vows to step up attacks against army

February 9, 2017 20:34

AMMAN, Feb 9 - The head of a new alliance of Syrian Islamist factions including al Qaeda's former branch promised to escalate attacks against the Syrian army and its Iranian-backed allies, with the goal of toppling President Bashar al-Assad.

Hashem al-Sheikh, leader of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham that was formed last month, also said in his first video speech that the new grouping sought to "liberate" all of Syrian territory.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham was created from a merger of Jabhat Fateh al Sham - formerly al Qaeda's Nusra Front - and several other groups.

The jihadist alliance has enlisted thousands of fighters who defected in recent weeks from more moderate Free Syrian Army rebel groups, angered by their leaders' readiness to engage in a peace process with Assad's government.

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