The Pakistani Taliban’s revelation that its fighters, drawn from various countries, have joined the Syrian rebels in battling President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces points to Syria becoming a theatre of global jihad.
Quoting Taliban commanders in Pakistan, Reuters reported that hundreds of fighters joined the opposition combating the Syrian army. The report said the purpose of the exercise was to establish closer links with al-Qaeda’s central leadership.
In Syria, the Taliban has been operating with groups such as the al-Qaeda linked Jabhat al-Nusra, whose fighters have been drawn from neighbouring countries such as Libya and Tunisia, forming a nucleus of fighters in the Levant that can mutate in the service of global jihad.
Analysts say outfits such as the al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda in Iraq and a number of other extremists groups have organised themselves under the Syrian Islamic Front (SIF) umbrella group, forming the most potent fighting core of the Syrian opposition.
According to Reuters, Taliban fighters had gone to Syria to fight alongside their “Mujahedeen friends”. “When our brothers needed our help, we sent hundreds of fighters along with our Arab friends,” said one senior Taliban commander. He added that the group would soon release videos demonstrating the “victories” recorded by the group in Syria.
“Since our Arab brothers have come here for our support, we are bound to help them in their respective countries and that is what we did in Syria,” another commander was quoted as saying. “We have established our own camps in Syria. Some of our people go and then return after spending some time fighting there.”
After overrunning the strategic town of Qusair on Syria’s border with Lebanon and tightening its grip around the militant stronghold of Homs, the Syrian army is aiming for peripheral consolidation around the capital Damascus. Iran’s Press TV has posted video footage of the Syrian army’s advance along Al-Qaboun and Jobar — suburbs of Damascus. Troops have blocked a tunnel and established control over an industrial zone that was used by the opposition in Al-Qaboun to reinforce fighters in Jobar. The Syrian military has also claimed that it has recovered chemical agents and chlorine from a militant hideout in Jobar.