Claim: Insurgents Capture Syria’s Largest Oilfield
Regime Airstrikes Kill At Least 29 in Aleppo
Islamic State of Iraq: “We Love You…If You’re Muslim”


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Seven leading insurgent factions in Syria announced on Friday that they were joining forces in an “Islamic Front” to battle the Assad regime.

The groups in the merger are Jaish al-Islam, a collection of more than 40 factions in Damascus Province; Aleppo-based Liwa al-Tawhid; Ahrar al-Sham; tIdlib-based Soqour al-Sham, Homs-based al-Haq Brigades, Ansar al-Sham, and the Kurdish Islamic Front.

See also Analysis: Why and How Insurgent Formation of an Islamic Front Changes the Conflict

Almost all of the factions are amongst the largest in the insurgency — both Ahrar al-Sham and Liwa al-Tawhid are estimated to have more than 10,000 members — while the presence of the Kurdish Islamic Front tries to counter the conflict with the largest Kurdish faction, the PYD, in northern Syria.

The merger is a challenge not only to President Assad but also the opposition’s political umbrella, the Syrian National Coalition, and the Supreme Military Council. Many insurgents have been increasingly critical of the SMC and its head General Salem Idriss this year, accusing it of failing to deliver leadership and supplies for the fight against the regime.

As an EA analyst notes in a separate entry, the Islamic Front will establish its presence initially on the battlefield, continuing to co-operate with the Free Syrian Army despite the break with the SMC. However, it could potentially take on a political role as the opposition inside Syria, a position which the Syrian National Coalition has failed to establish in the eyes of many in the insurgency.

Far from incidentally, the merger — linking groups in the north and south of Syria — is also in response to the growing threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham within the insurgency. ISIS, which has extended its presence across the north of the country, has been in conflict — sometimes armed — with most of the factions in the new front.

Jabhat al-Nusra is not in the new bloc; the Front is likely to seek co-operation with the Islamic faction, which has been locked in a struggle with ISIS since the spring.

The groups declared in their Friday statement, in an announcement aimed at both Damascus and other opposition elements, “The Islamic Front is an independent military and social force that is aimed at bringing down Assad’s regime in Syria and at replacing it with a just Islamic state.”

Claim: Insurgents Capture Syria’s Largest Oilfield

Opposition activists claim that insurents have captured Syria’s largest oilfield, the al-Omar complex in eastern Deir Ez Zor Province.

Factions involved in the operation included Jabhat al-Nusra, Jaish al-Islam, Liwa Qaqa, Liwa al-Ikhlaas, and Liwa Muta. They claimed the capture of at least tanks, Shilka anti-aircraft systems, tank shells, mortars, and heavy machine gun ammunition.

Video posted on the internet showed insurgents in camouflage and black scarves driving a tank under a sign that read “Euphrates Oil Company — al-Omar field”.

Regime Airstrikes Kill At Least 29 in Aleppo

The Aleppo Media Network reports that regime airstrikes have killed at least 29 people in and near Syria’s largest city.

One strike hit a crowded vegetable market, killing 14 people. Another attack left 15 dead in the town of al-Bab near Aleppo.

Video showed plumes of smoke are seen rising from the ground, strewn with twisted metal and chunks of broken-up concrete.

Footage of the immediate aftermath of the barrel bomb attacks on al-Bab:

Islamic State of Iraq: “We Love You…If You’re Muslim”