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Al-Qaeda calls for its jihadists to fight guerrilla war

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Al-Qaeda's leader has called on his followers to switch tactics and engage in guerrilla warfare as they prepare for protracted jihad [holy war] in Syria, reported International Business Times (US).

In an audio statement released by the terrorist group's propaganda arm, As Sahab, Ayman al-Zawahri called for his Syrian Sunni jihadists to prepare for a "long battle" against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and well as the US-led coalition.

Zawahri, the successor to Osama Bin Laden, said an "international satanic alliance" will never accept Islamic rule in Syria and that Muslims across the world, not just those in Syria, should fight for divine rule.

He said the West and its allies have been targeting them in order to prevent an "Islamic" wave that is sweeping the region.

Zawahri said: "In my humble opinion the strategy for jihad in Sham must focus on a guerrilla war aimed at wearing down the enemy and bleeding it to death," reported the Long War Journal.

Al Qaed's Syria branch Fatah al-Sham Front, formally known as Nusra Front, is currently spearheading the attacks on the Syrian government as well as their Russia and Iran-backed allies in Syria.

Iraqi Vice President Ayad Allawi previously warned that al-Qaeda are attempting to form an alliance with Isis in order to help battle forces in Mosul.

He said: "The discussion has started now. There are discussions and dialogue between messengers representing [Isis leader Abu Bakr al] Baghdadi and representing Zawahiri."

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Al-Nusra Front, a rebel group, announced in July 2016 that it was ending its formal ties with al-Qaeda and changed its name to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, or the Conquest of Syria Front, reported Al-Jazeera (Qatar).

On January 28 of this year, it merged with four other groups to form a new organisation called Hay'et Tahrir al-Sham, or the Assembly for the Liberation of Syria.

Al Jazeera's senior political analyst, Marwan Bishara, said that Zawahiri was attempting to throw al-Qaeda into the spotlight.
"Certainly with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) being the star, if you will, in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, al-Qaeda is trying to be relevant at a time when it is no longer relevant," he said.

"Al-Qaeda itself has changed over the last decade. Once upon a time, it used to be a hierarchical group whereby Zawahiri's boss, Osama bin Laden, used to give orders and orders used to be carried through. Various organisations joined the franchise because they knew there was some sort of a hierarchy."

Bishara explained that the organisation has become segmented over the past decade, with ideologically linked al-Qaeda groups from Yemen to Iraq acting with autonomy.
"These are very autonomous groups and they are not taking any instructions from Ayman al-Zawahiri or from any headquarters in Pakistan, Afghanistan ... Syria is where there could be a turning point."

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