August 13, 2013
BEIRUT — A rebranded version of Iraq’s al-Qaeda affiliate is surging onto the front lines of the war in neighboring Syria, expanding into territory seized by other rebel groups and carving out the kind of sanctuaries that the U.S. military spent more than a decade fighting to prevent in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the four months since the Iraqi al-Qaeda group changed its name to reflect its growing ambitions, it has forcefully asserted its presence in some of the towns and villages captured from Syrian government forces. It has been bolstered by an influx of thousands of foreign fighters from the region and beyond.
The group, now known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is by no means the largest of the loosely aligned rebel organizations battling to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and it is concentrated mostly in the northern and eastern provinces of the country. But with its radical ideology and tactics such as kidnappings and beheadings, the group has stamped its identity on the communities in which it is present, including, crucially, areas surrounding the main border crossings with Turkey.
This article was posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 at 11:07 am