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Israel's New Neighbor: Syrian Al-Qaeda Rebel Group

Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra, closely identified with al-Qaeda, has "moved in" next to the border with Israel
By David Lev
First Publish: 5/27/2013, 5:05 PM

Al Qaeda in Syria
Al Qaeda in Syria
Screen shot

In recent months, there has been a shakeout among the various Syrian rebel groups, and one of the dominant ones that has emerged is Jabhat al-Nusra, closely identified with al-Qaeda. The Sunni Islamist group is seeking to take over as much of Syria as possible and place it under Sharia Islamic law.

Now, the group has taken up positions close to Syria's border with Israel, adjacent to the Syrian side of the Golan Heights. In a video released on Youtube, the group's soldiers are seen conducting training exercises in the Dar'a area of southern Syria, right next to the Heights. In the exercise, the soldiers are seen attempting to take over a building, using weapons and bombs.

They are also seen singing Arabic songs in praise of terror, and swearing revenge on the “unbelievers” - the Alawite group that runs Syria, as well as Shi'ite Muslims who, according to Sunni views, hold an incorrect interpretation of Islam.

The video provides evidence of a well-trained, motivated fighting force, military experts said. The group is clearly better equipped and trained than the other rebel groups, they said, and apparently has incorporated a large number of Sunni Muslim defectors from the Syrian army.

While the group says that putting the “Syrian house in order” is its first order of business, it says that it eventually plans to deal with the “Zionist enemy” and end the “occupation,” first of the Golan, and then of the “rest of Palestine.”