Qaeda-linked groups in Syria ponder entering Lebanon
The Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front in Syria and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant haven't taken a decision to “officially enter Lebanon,” as the two groups are still dealing with agents for them to “send messages to Hezbollah.”
“Both groups have the necessary logistic capabilities to carry out attack in Lebanon similar to those in Iraq but there's no decision yet to move the conflict to Lebanon,” a leader in Al Nusra Front said in comments published in Al-Akhbar newspaper.
However, the leader said that the decision might “be changed in the upcoming days in light of the developments in Syria's Qalamoun.”
The Syrian army and Hezbollah fighters have expelled rebels from several strategic towns in Qalamoun, but Yabrud -- the largest in the region -- has so far remained an opposition stronghold.
“ISIL and the Al Nusra Front still haven't appointed an Emir in Lebanon to run the Lebanese front.”
The leader told Al Akhbar daily that the two groups are tasking agents for them in Lebanon, similar to Naim Abbas, a top of the Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades, who was arrested by the army in February.
The leader stressed that the Abdullah Azzam Brigades is the only active group in Lebanon, pointing out that the bombings carried out by it inflicted heavy damage and caused a high number of casualties.
“Those who were arrested by Lebanese security forces are only implementers and not planners.”
“The bombings that have so far occurred are merely messages to Hezbollah over its involvement in the war in Syria,” Al Nusra Front leader said, noting that the explosions are targeting civilians “to push the party's withdrawal” from the neighboring country.
Lebanon witnessed a string of of bomb attacks in recent months targeting mainly strongholds of Hezbollah, which has drawn the ire of Sunni extremist groups in part because of its role fighting alongside the regime in Syria.
“The Jihadist leadership is convinced that the fall of the Syrian regime will lead to the fall of Hezbollah,” the leader added.
Hezbollah has dispatched fighters to battle alongside the Syrian regime against rebels seeking the overthrow of President Bashar Assad.
The conflict, pitting a Sunni-dominated rebel movement against Assad, whose Alawite faith is an offshoot of Shiite Islam, has raised sectarian tensions in Lebanon.
- Hezbollah ups security after being targeted by violence
- While peace talks continue in Geneva, Lebanon still victim of Syrian rocket fire
- Lebanese army arrests Nusra Front leader
- Syrian Islamist rebel groups claim responsibility for Lebanon rocket attacks Tuesday
- Report: Hezbollah may withdraw fighters from Syria if domestic issues resolved