“The Americans, Russians, Iranians, Alawites, and Hezbollah are coordinating their war against us — are we not capable of stopping the fighting amongst ourselves so we can direct all our efforts against them?”
Those were the words of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, in a recorded audio message posted on the internet where he tried to lure rival Islamist groups to fight as a unified force against the “threat” coming from the West and Russia in Syria and Iraq.
The message hints that it was probably recorded in October because Russia started its airstrikes in Syria on September 30 prompting analysts to believe that Moscow’s intervention in the war has been effective to a certain point.
The recorded audio message which was reported by Reuters quoted Zawahiri calling his “mujahideen brothers in all places and of all groups… to stand together as one from East Turkestan to Morocco” to confront American, European and Russian “aggression.”
Zawahiri’s call for unison comes after an audio message he had posted on the internet in September. He had then criticized the ISIS for setting up an “illegitimate” caliphate but said his group would join them in the fight against the aggressors.
It is unclear if his call will be answered because a temporal coalition of ISIS and other jihadist groups in Syria, including al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, al-Nusra Front, lasted a few months this year. The coalition didn’t have a happy ending because in June, ISIS beheaded members from rival Syrian rebel groups including a member of al-Nusra.
Meanwhile, ISIS took over the town of Maheen in Homs forcing government forces to retreat. The assault brought ISIS to within 20kilometers of the main highway that links Damascus to Homs and to cities further north.