Al-Nusra Front jihadi
Al-Nusra Front jihadiReuters

The head of Al-Nusra Front, Syria's powerful Al-Qaeda branch, on Friday urged opponents of President Bashar Al-Assad to reject a ceasefire due to begin at midnight and instead intensify attacks on the regime.

"Beware of this trick from the West and America because everyone is pushing you to go back under the thumb of the oppressive regime," Mohammad al-Jolani said in an audio message quoted by the AFP news agency.

"Fighters in Syria, willingly arm yourselves, intensify your attacks and have no fear of their troops and their aircraft," Jolani added.

Describing the truce as "shameful", the jihadist chief said that "negotiations are the ones conducted on the battlefield".

The cessation of hostilities, announced last week by Russia and the United States, is not set to include neither Al-Nusra nor the Islamic State (ISIS), which President Barack Obama said on Thursday the United States would be “relentless” in pursuing.

It marks the biggest diplomatic push yet to help end Syria's violence, but has been plagued by doubts after the failure of previous peace efforts.

Parties to the deal will have to deal with the complexity of Syria's battlefields where moderate and Islamist rebel forces often fight alongside extremists groups such as Al-Nusra.

Russia carried out intense raids on rebel bastions across Syria Friday just hours before the truce was due to take effect, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Syria's army said this week it would exclude Daraya, an important rebel town near Damascus from the cessation of hostilities because forces there including Al-Nusra fighters.

The latest ceasefire agreement came on the heels of another deal announced by top diplomats in Munich earlier this month, which was to go into effect last Friday.

The deadline of that ceasefire came and went with no end to the bloodshed in Syria.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)