The Guardian reports: Air strikes continued to target Islamic State (Isis) positions near the Kurdish town of Kobani and hubs across north-east Syria on Sunday, as the terror group moved towards a new alliance with Syria’s largest al-Qaida group that could help offset the threat from the air.
Jabhat al-Nusra, which has been at odds with Isis for much of the past year, vowed retaliation for the US-led strikes, the first wave of which a week ago killed scores of its members. Many Nusra units in northern Syria appeared to have reconciled with the group, with which it had fought bitterly early this year.
A senior source confirmed that al-Nusra and Isis leaders were now holding war-planning meetings. While not yet formalised, the addition of at least some al-Nusra numbers to Isis would strengthen the group’s ranks and further its reach at a time when air strikes are crippling its funding sources and slowing its advances in both Syria and Iraq.
Al-Nusra, which has direct ties to al-Qaida’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, denounced the attacks as a “war on Islam”, in an audio statement posted over the weekend. A senior al-Nusra figure told the Guardian that 73 members had defected to Isis last Friday alone and that scores more were planning to swear allegiance in coming days. [Continue reading…]