Syria’s al-Nusra leader says end of war is near
DOHA / BEIRUT
Members of jihadist group al-Nusra Front take part in a parade calling for the establishment of an Islamic state in Syria in an Aleppo neighborhood. AFP photoSyria’s civil war is nearing an end, the leader of Syria’s al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, one of the key players in the Arab republic’s conflict, has said, noting that his group’s fighters hold the upper hand, even though they have no intention of ruling the country alone after the war.
“The battle is almost over, we have covered about 70 percent of it, and what’s left is small. We will achieve victory soon. We pray to God to culminate these efforts with victory. It’s only a matter of days,” Abu Mohammed al-Joulani, the leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, told Al-Jazeera.
The al-Nusra leader has never appeared in any public forum until the recent interview with Al-Jazeera, where his face was kept away from the camera due to his own wishes.
“Al-Nusra does not seek to rule society on its own when we reach the stage of the liberation of Sham [Syria],” al-Joulani said, adding that the group was willing to work on a new roadmap for the country with a council made up of Muslim clerics and thinkers who have been supporting the uprising.
“They will put in place an appropriate plan for running the country, which of course will be based on Islamic sharia, ruling on the basis of God’s law,” he said.
Al-Joulani also ruled out any compliance with the results of the planned Geneva peace talks.
“We will not recognize any results that come out of the Geneva II Conference, nor will the children or women of Syria. Those taking part in the conference do not represent the people who sacrificed and shed blood. Besides, who has authorized them to represent the people?” he said.
Al-Joulani further warned the Sunni-led states of the region to be careful about improving relations between the United States and Iran, which took a historic turn recently with the nuclear deal between the Western powers and Tehran.
“All these states are now in jeopardy since the international community replaced them with a new ally, Iran.”
‘Jihadists kill detainees’
Al-Nusra pledged loyalty to al-Qaeda, which has in turn embraced the group as its franchise in Syria. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) was originally the branch of al-Qaeda in Iraq but expanded to Syria.
ISIL has not been accepted by central al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri as having a legitimate role in Syria. Meanwhile, Amnesty International yesterday accused ISIL of abducting, torturing and killing detainees at secret prisons in areas under its control.
The rights group said detainees held by ISIL include children as young as 8 and that minors had been sentenced to severe floggings and held with adults in “cruel and inhuman conditions,” according to Agence France-Presse.
“After years in which they were prey to the brutality of [President Bashar al-Assad’s] regime, the people of Raqa and Aleppo are now suffering under a new form of tyranny imposed on them by [ISIL], in which arbitrary detention, torture and executions have become the order of the day,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty’s director for the Middle East and North Africa.