UK & World News
Syria: The Growing Power Of Jihadist Groups
The number of Jihadist groups flooding into Syria two years after the start of the uprising is threatening to eclipse the power of mainstream opposition groups as well as the authority of the Free Syrian Army.
One of the increasingly influential groups, Jabah†al Haq (The Front for Justice), told Sky News that Jihad is spreading across North Africa and the Middle East and will not stop at Syria but will include Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq and even Israel.
The frontline in the Battle for Aleppo is constantly changing. You know when you are there; the people disappear.
In these parts of the city only fighters are on the streets, in battered buildings and destroyed alleyways.
There is nothing left anymore. It is a frightening kill-zone. The sounds of rockets crunching into buildings, the whistle of high velocity rounds passing a few feet above your head, the scream of men shot by snipers never stops, or if it does, it is not for long.
The fighters on the rebel side are made up of a mish-mash of defected soldiers, the Free Syrian Army and a growing number of Jihadists; some are from Syria many are from abroad.
Jabah al Haq men took us to their front weaving their truck passed blown up cars, and homes; passed streets with huge tarpaulin sheets strung across to give protection from government snipers.
They were worried about us filming their positions and arguments caused by our presence rumbled on for the whole time we were there.
Abu Obaeda, a former soldier with a sniper rifle hung over his back, described the front as 'cold' with little real fighting. But even as he spoke machine gun fire drowned him out. A man was hit and his comrades were organising a truck to speed him away while attacking the government forces.
When I asked how far away they were he laughed.
"In which direction?" he said. "They are 25 metres in front and 20 metres on either side. We can only go back; but we wont," he added.
They wouldn't say how many men they had but said they were fighting 200 government soldiers supported by as many government militia, the Shabiha.
The chaos of the front lines is now reflected in the make up of the groups doing the fighting.
Jabah†al Haq is led by a charismatic young cleric called Sheik Abu al Homan.
I was taken to a secret location where a school was being used as a court to adjudicate on the many problems caused by the war raging across the city.
It is a strict Sharia court and he is advised by clerics and lawyers. That said, his word is law.
He was quiet and pleasant and his organisation is doing what every Jihad organisation from the Taliban to Hamas and al Qaeda has done: they are providing law and order and they are feeding and providing medicine for the people.
It works every time.
Locals tell us that the Free Syrian Army, who largely live amongst the populace, are becoming a problem. They lack discipline, they take things and of course they attract government fire.
Jihad groups live together. They are religious and they fight hard against the government not the people.
There is a takeover happening as every commander I have met in covering all of this revolution from the start has always predicted.
If the Syrian revolution were not ended quickly then it would become a Jihadist nightmare for the whole region. It has.
Sheik Homan is not just fighting for Aleppo, or Syria but predicts a greater Jihad is underway from North Africa to the Middle East.
"I am very surprised at France's reaction in Mali. They have seen what happened to the US in Afghanistan and Iraq," he told me.
"The West should learn their lesson and not fight Muslims. The war in Afghanistan and Iraq has led to an increase in resistance to the west.
"So you see all the Jihadists waiting to come here because of its value to Muslims," he said.
Indeed the foreigners are coming. I have seen a steady increase from Libya, Egypt, Yemen and Algeria. Even the Free Syrian Army accepts that like it or not the Jihadists will play a future role in the make up of post-Assad Syria.
"The Jihadists arrived after we were let down by the UN Security Council," Hajji Marea, the FSA's leader in Aleppo, told me in an underground bunker.
He shrugs his shoulders.
"The UN let the government kill innocent people. It is a disgrace. The Jihadists saw what was happening and came and now they are here."