Tags / Jabhat al-Nusra
Jisr al-Shughour, Syria
May 11, 2015
More than 200 Syrian government fighters, possibly including high ranking officers, are believed to have been besieged in the government hospital complex in the town of Jisr al-Shughour for more than two weeks. This is one of the few locations where Syrian regime forces still exist in Idlib province. Syrian government forces have failed to break the siege despite several airstrikes and ground operations.
This video offers an inside look at positions held by the Nusra Front within the wrecked hospital complex, which has become a battlefield. Rebel fighters control three of the hospital's four main buildings.
Rebel military commanders speculated in interviews that high ranking Syrian, Iranian and Russian military officers, as well as the governor of Idlib might be caught in the remaining building.
Wide of building where Syrian government troops are hiding
Medium of Nusra Front fighter behind sandbags
Close-up of rifle tip
Various inside blood bank building held by Nusra Front
Various of destroyed buildings
Various inside the blood bank building
Wide of building held by regime forces
Various of Nusra Front fighters
Interview with Abu Zain al-Abidin, Nusra Front commander
Various of Abu Zain al-Abdidin with other Nusra Front fighters
Interview with unnamed Nusra Front fighter
Various of a room that was used as a detention center by regime forces
Interview with unnamed Nusra Front fighter
Close-up of graffiti written by regime fighters
Various of Nusra Front fighters attempting to approach regime-held building
Various of wrecked cars and killed regime fighters’ corpses
Medium of tank
Interview with Abu Omar al-Zaybaq, a Nusra Front commander
Various of regime-held building
Close-up of empty bullet casings
Various of Nusra Front fighters shooting at regime-held building
Wide of regime-held building
SOUNDBITE (Man, Arabic) Abu Zain al-Abidin , Nusra Front Commander
(02:10 – 03:53)
“In the name of God, peace be upon God’s Messenger, and thanks be to God. We are inside Jisr al-Shughour Hospital. Over there is the hospital’s main gate; here is the external clinics building behind me. This is the external clinics building. We are now in the hospital’s surrounding.
Q: We heard that high ranking officers from regime forces are inside the hospital. What kind of information do you have about this? And what is the approximate number of people inside the hospital, which you are now besieging?
A: The estimated number of people is 250. There might be high ranking personalities or the governor [of Idlib province]. There might be important personalities.
Q: In reaction, what did the regime do to break the siege and how did you manage to push back the regime forces?
A: It [the regime] is using all sorts of weapons, such as warplanes; it is trying with all sorts of weapons, but, thanks be to God, we are prepared to confront it. We shall retaliate with sophisticated and modern means. The regime will witness surprises in the next few hours.
We enforced a security perimeter with a radius of about five to six km and they could not withdraw. If they were able to withdraw they would have done it. Some of them withdrew but the others could not.
Our attack, thanks be to God, was very fast and we were able to enforce the siege unexpectedly. The perimeter we enforced on them was large. They were not able to withdraw. If they could withdraw they would have done it.”
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Unnamed Nusra Front Fighter
04:17 – 04:53
“We are now at the external clinics building in the National Hospital of Jisr al-Shughour. The infidel enemy is located in that building, which is a few meters away. We are now closing down on them with the help of God Almighty.
God willing, we will storm the building with explosive-rigged cars the likes of which the regime has not seen.
The men we have brought to fight you love death as much as you love life. We have brought migrant as well as local fighters. Thanks be to God.”
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Unnamed Nusra Front Fighter
(05:17 – 05:54) “This is not a prison. This is supposed to be a hospital. However, God’s enemy turned this into a cell to detain Muslims. Unfortunately, look how Muslims draw on the walls. May God help us. [UNINTELLIGIBLE] Prisoners had no knives or weapons and were placed in the second floor underground. May God help us; may God help us. God willing, we have come to cut your throats.”
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Abu Omar al-Zaybaq
(07:26 – 08:40)
“In the name of God, In the course of the hospital battle, thank be to God we are besieging [regime members] from all sides. Thanks be to God, we have controlled the three [main] buildings. There are one more building and the basement left.
God willing, we will soon be inside the basement where Assad’s gangs are located, which is where secrets are kept.
Q: What are these secrets? What is it that enabled people besieged in a single building to hold on?
A: God knows better, but it is said that the regime is so ferocious in trying to keep this hospital. God knows better, there might be high ranking officers, who could be Iranians or Russians. There could also be chemical weapons.
In the next few days we will bring you new information.”
February 8, 2015
This video shows fighters from the Nusra Front in the outskirts of the Lebanese of Arsal, located on the border with Syria, conducting maneuvers with live ammunition. Video also includes rare interviews with two members of the Nusra Front acknowledging that their group is holding Lebanese soldiers captive and accusing the Lebanese government and Hezbollah of thwarting negotiations to release them.
The fighters also claim that the Nusra Front is protecting the Syrian refugees in Arsal.
At least 40 Islamist fighters in the nearby border area of Ras Baalbek were killed in clashes with the Lebanese Army on January 23.
Fighters from the Nusra Front and the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, took control of Arsal in August 2014 for several days and kidnapped dozens of Lebanese soldiers and security officers and executed some of them. Lebanese government forces regained control of Arsal while hills outside the town are still controlled by fighters from these two groups.
On February 13, 2015, following the broadcast of this video, the Nusra Front said that the comments made in the interviews here do not represent the official position of the organization.
SHOTLIST AND TRANSCRIPT
- Various of streets in Arsal
- Traveling of Dawar al-Barmil street in Arsal; Islamic State flag graffiti can be seen on the wall
- Wide/ R-L pan of Arsal Municipality building
- Wide/ L-R pan of Arsal
- Various of fighters training to occupy military posts using live ammunition
- Close-up of fighters’ hands while making tea
- Close-up of fighter’s hands filling up a Kalashnikov magazine
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Abu Bakr al-Mujahid, Nusra Front Fighter
04:09 – 05:06
“We are in Arsal because there are Syrian refugees. We are protecting them, God willing. What is more important is that Arsal is adjacent to Shiite villages, where there rawafidh [pejorative term for Shiites] and the Party of Satan [Hezbollah], who are slaughtering our children in Syria. We do not interfere in the politics of the Lebanese government. Had Hezbollah not intervened [in Syria] we would not have interfered with [Lebanese politics]. Concerning our numbers and equipment, we usually do not disclose information about this. These are military secrets. We are positioned on the frontlines adjacent to the Nussairi [Alawite] enemy in Syria. We ask God almighty to keep us steadfast and patient to exterminate this enemy.
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Abu Qutada al-Ansari, Nusra Front Fighter
05:07 – 07:04
"We are present in Arsal because there are Syrian refugees. We take care of protecting and supporting them, with the will of God. More importantly, Arsal is adjacent to the rawafidh villages and the Safavid Party of Satan. We do not interfere in the policies of the Lebanese state. Had the Party of Satan not intervened [in Syria] we would not have interfered with [Lebanese politics].
In the name of God,
We did not kidnap Lebanese soldiers, but we are negotiating with the Lebanese government. We are currently holding [the Lebanese soldiers] and they are in our care. Our demands are clear and are not costly for the Lebanese state: let the men and women out of your prisons and you shall be given the Lebanese prisoners immediately. It is not us who are complicating things. It is your government which is placing hurdles in the way of releasing them [the Lebanese soldiers]. Unfortunately, the Party of Satan was able to drag the Lebanese State into things that have bad consequences. [Hezbollah] is placing obstacles and causing the failure of the negotiations. Nevertheless, negotiations are still ongoing but extremely slowly. As I told you before, it is not us who are causing the negotiations to fail. "
This video collection offers a unique and unauthorized glimpse into the activities of ISIS in Syria. It features meetings led by a high-ranking official of ISIS who attempts to convince clan leaders in a Syrian village to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State. The video also includes scenes of ISIS fighters in military situations and relaxing.
NOTE: The video clips in this collection were obtained by Transterra Media from a source who received it from a member of ISIS who defected from the group. According to the source the videos were recorded in the town of Zir and other locations in Syria between January and June, 2014. Transterra Media cannot independently verify the accuracy of this content. The appearance of this video on the Transterra Media (TTM) website does not in any way constitute endorsement by TTM of any claims or statements made in the video.
Bir Ajam, Qunaitra Province, Syria
A fighter from the Nusra Front has revealed in an interview with a Transterra Media contributor that three months ago he was treated in Israel for a bone fracture and severed nerves in his arm.
He said he spent 10 days in an Israeli hospital.
The interview was shot in late November 2014 in the village of Bir Ajam in Qunaitra province near the Syrian-Israeli border.
The fighter appears in this footage wearing military fatigues with his right arm wrapped.
Rebels from the Free Syrian Army and the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda, control territories in south Syria adjacent to Israel and the occupied Golan Heights.
This video also includes an interview with the head of a field hospital in the village, who said his makeshift treatment center lacks basic medical supplies and surgical equipment. The physician said that wounded militants and civilians who cannot be treated at his hospital are transported to “neighboring countries” without naming them.
NOTE During the recording of the interview with the fighter, the Transterra Media contributor was detained several times by the Nusra Front and portions of his recording were confiscated.
Wide shot of Israeli military position.
Traveling shot of destroyed houses near the border.
Various shots of UN peacekeeping and Israeli positions.
Interview with Dr. Abu Humam, head of field hospital in Bir Ajam village, Qunaitra on the border with Israel (Man, Arabic)
“The hospital receives fighters injured in battles, as well as civilians wounded by random artillery shells fired by the regime. “The injuries are varied – they could be in the chest, abdomen and limbs. Their seriousness also varies. Some injuries are medium and others are critical and lead to death.
“[Regarding the services that the hospital offers] there is a shortage of basic supplies, such as sterilized cotton gauze, anesthetics and vital medical devices that should be available in every hospital. For example, the hospital lacks intensive care devices and oxygen. We have been suffering from a lack of oxygen for six months. There is also a lack of other supplies that cannot be mentioned for lack of time. “Patients are transferred to neighboring countries when they need special treatment, such as nerve surgery or blood vessel surgery. Also, there is no intensive care unit.”
(Arabic) Interview with (unnamed) Nusra Front fighter (man) who was treated in Israel -When did you to Israel? -Three months ago.
-How were you transported to Israel? -I was transported through the border crossing in an ambulance through a military road.
-How long did you stay in Israel? -I spent 10 days.
-How did doctors treat you? -Doctors treated me well and humanely.
-What is your injury? - I have a fractured arm and severed nerves.
- How did you return from Israel? -I returned to from Israel into the liberated areas through the border crossing while under anesthetics.
Wide shot of UN peacekeeping position.
Traveling shot of territory behind barbed wires
Ras Baalbek, Lebanon
November 13, 2014
Christians living in the villages of Qaa and Ras Baalbek, near the Syrian border in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley, have begun arming themselves against extremist groups from Syria. Volunteers are organizing village militias to protect their communities from Nusra Front and Islamic State militants whose plan is to extend their caliphate to the Mediterranean coast. Abu George and Michel, two militiamen from Qaa say that they received threats from Nusra Front after the Islamist group attacked and destroyed the Christian town of Maaloula, in Syria, in September 2013. Threats have multiplied after clashes erupted in the town of Arsal in August between the Lebanese Army and Islamist fighters who crossed the border from Syria. More than 20 Lebanese soldiers and policemen were captured in this incident, some of whom were executed.
- Various of hills
- Wide of church
- Wide of street
- Various of church
- Wide of Lebanese Army vehicle driving on dirt road
- Medium of Michel (Christian militiaman) driving
- Close-up of hands on steering wheel
- Travelling of hills
Pan left of wooden crosses and Michel (Christian militiaman)
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Michel, militiaman from Ras Baalbek town
The municipality of Ras Baalbek has four men working as guards in the local police station. We stand guard at night and day, and when we encounter anything, we directly report it to the army, which takes action. There are six platoons from the [Lebanese Army] Airborne Regiment; there are soldiers from the Border Guard Regiment; and soldiers from the 8th Infantry Brigade are positioned on the border up there.
Medium of cross
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Michel, militiaman from Ras Baalbek town
Soldiers from the 8th Infantry Brigade position sometimes go on patrols. These mountains are empty; there is nothing there. There is fear that an infiltration might occur. It is very cloudy and we cannot see anything, and someone might cross over from there.
We only fear that someone might sneak during the night, or even during the winter when fog covers the town. This why we stay awake all night long guarding the town. Of course we collaborate with the Lebanese Army
Wide of church
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Michel, militiaman from Ras Baalbek town
Soon, when winter comes, the weather becomes very snowy and cold. Some of them [fighters] will have to escape the cold and eventually come to our village; this is why we have to have stand guard during the night with help of the Lebanese Army.
Medium of church bell
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Michel, militiaman from Ras Baalbek town
If any [fighter] comes from the hilltops, the Lebanese Army will warn us. It will not be easy [for fighters to infiltrate] since they need at least two hours to get to the town. We would then have to move our children, women and elderly, and to defend our homes, honor and homes.
Wide of church
Wide of hills
Wide of grocery store
Traveling of old man walking
Wide of grocery store
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Elias Mansour
As Christians, we are not afraid. We will never leave our land and homes, we are very proud as Christians. Jesus Christ is always with us.
Medium of church mural
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Elias Mansour
Every night, we have around 400 young men who assist the army and are always ready.
Medium of Abu George driving
Close up of rifle inside the car
Medium of Abu George carrying rifle next to 4x4 vehicle
Traveling of militiaman walking and holding rifle and binoculars
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Abu George, 40 years old, and militiaman from Qaa, retired Lebanese soldier
There have been several infiltration attempts, which have been dealt with.
Not long ago -- about 15 days ago -- an infiltration attempt took place and it was dealt with. These attempts are taking place in small numbers. They [fighters] have probably come to see whether there is someone who is vigilant or not, and they saw what they should see.
Tilt down of rifle held by Abu George
Wide of militiaman aiming sniper rifle
SOUNDBITE (Arabic, Man) Abu George, 40 years old, and militiaman from Qaa, retired Lebanese soldier
Of course, they will not spare us. These people, despite the fact that they speak in the name of religion, are faithless and do not have no mercy on anyone; they do not have mercy on whoever they reach. We saw what happened to others and we do not want have to live the same experience. After what happened in Maaloula [a Syrian Christian town taken by Nusra Front], they threatened to do the same to us. They said they will do the same in one of the Christian towns of Northern Beqaa – our village is located in this area. This is a direct threat to neighboring villages and to us.
Wide of militiaman aiming sniper rifle
September 17, 2014
Southern Suburbs, Beirut, Lebanon
A wounded Hezbollah fighter, fresh from battle against IS in Syria, gives an exclusive interview discussing the state of Hezbollah in Syria, the battle against IS and Nusra, his opinion about the American strikes against IS, and Hezbollah's readiness for a new war with Israel.
The fighter who was recently wounded in battle against IS and Nusra in the Qalamoun mountains describes human wave attacks by IS and Nusra and the military logistics of Hezbollah's fight in Syria.
The fighter's voice has been altered to protect his identity.
Q: Can you give us your code name?
A: My name is Hussein.
Q: We know that you were recently on a frontline, and you were injured, and you just returned [home]. If it is not confidential, can you tell us which frontline you were on?
A: In Qalamoun.
Q: People hear that there are battles in Qalamoun, but of course as a person on the frontline, you know more. Tell us who you are fighting in Qalamoun. Who is the enemy in Qalamoun?
A: Jabhat Al Nusra, ISIS, of course half of them are foreigners: Saudis, Kuwaitis, Afghanis, Lebanese. It is a mix.
Q: Do you have an idea about how many [ISIS/Nusra] fighters there are?
A: There are around 12,000 to 7,000, and they are constantly increasing in number.
Q: So there is still an influx [of Nusra/ISIS fighters] from Syria?
A: Yes, the majority are coming from Arsal, even though this [route] is now supposed to have been controlled [by the Lebanese Armed Forces], the influx from Arsal.
Q: From your close quarters engagement and fighting with them, how trained are they?
A: They have high capabilities, but their way of attacking, they come in huge numbers. For example, and this is causing us some losses, if we have a position that can withstand the attack of a 100 fighters, you would find 600 fighters attacking us, and this is causing losses for us.
Q: And their arms?
A: Like our weapons. Cornets, 23mm guns, 14.5 mm guns, 57mm guns, grad rockets, of course they are using grad rockets. [They use] traditional battle weapons. They have canons, mortars, and rockets. They mostly rely on snipers. When they initiate an attack, they would have around 100 snipers spotting and providing covering fire. So the battles are very hard.
Q: Is The Resistance [Hezbollah] getting any military support from the Syrian Army?
A: Some air support, but while fighting [on the ground], there is not supposed to be any Syrian army members.
Q: When your group is fighting, are the orders coming from The Resistance or the Syrian army?
A: For The Resistance, the orders 100% from The Resistance. The leadership is from The Resistance. The orders come from the The Resistance’s group commanders. There is a field commander, there is a military commander on the ground, and there is a commander higher than him in the operations room. The Resistance only. Sometimes if we need anything from the Syrian army, we give them the coordinates and they hit the location [from the air].
Q: How intertwined are the front lines [between ISIS/Nusra and Hezbollah]?
A: Very intertwined. There can be areas where there is 500m distance between us, sometimes 300m, or 200m. You may get surprised by them in some areas. At times they may not be prepared for us and we launch a surprise attack on them. We do infiltration operations and use explosive charges. And spotting is constant, naturally; we know who we want.
Q: What do you remember from the day you were injured?
A: They launched a massive attack on us. Some men with us were martyred, and some were wounded. Then we our backup arrived. When the injury happened, I was still able to fight until the medics came and we fixed the situation. I stayed on the ground for a while until more [Hezbollah] groups came and helped us. Then the medics evacuated us. That is all I remember from the battle, but it was a massive attack. You have to consider they were around 2000 members. This is how they attack, they come in waves and they don’t let you rest. Attack after attack, attack after attack, attack after attack. And they don’t care how many of their men die; those [Nusra/ISIS] fighters who flee the battle get killed [by their commanders] when they return [to their base].
Q: What did you feel when you were wounded? What was the first thought to go through your head? Did you know how serious your injury was? What did you feel?
A: I felt some pain. When I first was wounded, I did not feel anything, but the hit was hot. Then it became harsh. After 15 minutes, I was not able to move properly, so I became still and I said the Shahada [a mantra used to declare one’s faith in Islam]. This [martyrdom/death] is the reason we are coming here.
Q: Where were you injured?
A: In my back
Q: Was it mortar shrapnel or a bullet?
A: No, it was an M16 bullet. A sniper.
Q: How do you perceive the “Takfiri” [Extremist] enemy in front of you?
A: I perceive him as the enemy of all humanity, and fighting him is a duty.
Q: Do you feel that there is a possibility of negotiating with these “Takfiri” groups, or with Free Syrian Army groups, if there are any left?
A: With the Free Syrian Army, maybe at some point. However, with Jabhat Al Nusra, and ISIS in particular, there is no possibility. No possibility at all.
Q: Is this a battle until the end?
A: It is a battle until the end and we are with fighting them in Lebanon before they spread.
Q: How long are you staying here to rest?
A: For now, I will stay here for no less than 2 months to recover. I cannot go back [to the frontline] before 2 months.
Q: Are you excited about going back to the frontline?
Q: Can you give me an estimated number of The Resistance fighters?
A: The thing with The Resistance is that I cannot give you a number. Each unit knows what it has. For example, I do not know what there is in another unit. In Hezbollah, each team is on its own, each unit on its own. One unit does not know what the other unit has. But I can tell you that we have our weight up [in Syria] and that we have not forgotten Israel.
Q: In your opinion, is Hezbollah ready for a two front war?
A: The amount of men fighting [on the Israeli front] has not doubled, but tripled the amount who were fighting in the July War [2006 War with Israel]. They [the fighters on the Israeli front] do not know what is going on in Syria, their job is there [on the Israeli front].
Q: So they [the fighters] are separated?
A: They are separated.
Q: How ready is The Resistance?
A: Since 2006 until now, The Resistance has always been ready and is ready for any war at any time, and on all fronts.
Q: Did any of your comrades get martyred while you were near them?
A: Of course
Q: Can you tell us about an incident?
A: A man [Hezbollah fighter] was martyred, and he was telling me, “send my regards to my mother, this is how I was martyred”. I told him not to be afraid and I comforted him, but the bombardment was very heavy. I moved him to another place and we waited with him until the aid came, but he was already martyred. And of course I sent his regards to his mother and I gave her his scarf with his blood.
Q: When one of the men with you gets martyred, do you feel that this encourages the rest to fight or does it cause some sort of frustration?
A: Our resolve is always strong for a simple reason. No one hit me on my hand to become a fighter. I feel am threatened here in Lebanon. We are seeing what is happening in Iraq, we saw what happened in Syria. These people have no mercy for anyone. No one is forcing us to go fight. On the contrary, there are many who are told to stay here because there is no need for them to go fight. I can assure you that if the Sayyed [Hassan Nasrallah] calls for a war, we will have 300,000 fighters in a matter of hours.
Q: Is there any place where you wish things were better? Logistically or artillery wise, or maybe more orders?
A: We are doing what we are capable of doing. On the contrary, we have the best food, the best weapons, the best training and the best morale. We know who we are fighting. We know that we have no blood on our hands, we are exonerated in this world from that. We have no problems from that aspect and we are very comfortable. The more blood we lose, the stronger we get.
Q: We heard recently that an international alliance was born to attack ISIS targets. In your opinion, can we consider Hezbollah and the United States as having an intersection of interests?
A: There is no intersection at all. ISIS is a creation of America. Israel made ISIS to get to where we are now and they were not able to succeed. I think this is another link in the July War [2006 War with Israel] chain, and God willing, we will break it.
Q: If there is a message you would like to tell the people listening to you, what message would you like to send?
A: We are victorious, as God is one, and I would like to reassure [our solidarity with] all of humanity and all of its sects. For ISIS, all sects are its enemies, even the Sunni. Anyone who saw what is going on in Iraq, in Mosul, how they are walking the streets, shooting people right and left, without knowing their identity or nationality or to which sect they belong. All they do is kill and destroy, and it is a duty to fight them. We will win and God will make us victorious because we are right.
September 17, 2014
Southern Suburbs, Beirut, Lebanon
Interview with Hezbollah Group Commander
A Hezbollah commander, fresh from battle against IS in Syria, gives an exclusive interview discussing the state of Hezbollah in Syria, the battle against IS and Nusra, his opinion about American strikes against IS, and Hezbollah's readiness for a new war with Israel.
The commander discusses details about battlefield issues and difficulties. He also declares that he "hopes for a war to start between the Zionist enemy and Hezbollah soon", and that he has "no problem with the American people," but does have "a problem with American policies."
The commander's voice has been altered to protect his identity.
Q: Can you please introduce yourself? Name or codename
A: In the name of God, the merciful. My name is Jaafar, I am a member of Hezbollah.
Q: Please tell us about the amount of people signing up to fight with Hezbollah?
A: Thank God, volunteers are coming in on a regular basis. It [enrollment] has increased after the war in Syria and the 2006 war. [It increased] Especially after the Syrian war because it is known and in the open now. They [Syrian opposition] want The Resistance’ head, Hezbollah’s head. You are probably seeing the events and measures being taken by media outlets [to fight Hezbollah], or even the nature of movements on the ground are affecting [fighting] Hezbollah. Hezbollah gains strength from the blood of the martyrs. This is a grace from God and we are thankful for that.
Q: In the recent battles, in Arsal and Qalamoun, it is obvious that Hezbollah is taking casualties. How big are these casualties in comparison to those suffered by the ‘Takfiri’ [extremist] groups?
A: Specify what you mean by casualties. Human casualties? There are no human casualties. There are martyrs and wounded people, not casualties. If you are talking about materials losses we might agree with you, but if you are talking about people, we have martyrs and wounded men, not casualties. These people are fueling this cause and this march, our martyrs in who we take pride. Material losses are the casualties that we can agree with you on.
Q: How can we compare martyrs and wounded of Hezbollah to the casualties among the ‘Takfiri’ [extremist] groups?
A: We in Hezbollah do not hide any martyrs and this is not in our traditions. When a Hezbollah fighter is killed, he is buried on the second, third, fourth or first day, depending on the battlefield and the moving of the body, and when his parents wish to bury him in his hometown. Nothing more.
You need to see the other side, they are not organized. Everyone works according to their own thoughts or according to those financing them. As for Jabhat Al Nusra, who are the terrorist group with the biggest presence on the border between us and Syria, I don’t believe that they talk about their casualties.
As for our intelligence and security services, we always give them accurate accounts in names and numbers, if you have noticed, while they [Jabhat al-Nusra], on the other hand, do not announce [their casualties] until a while after they have been killed. This is the difference between them and us.
Q: What is the level of Hezbollah’s readiness at this point in time regarding the danger of a war on both the eastern front [Syria] and southern front [Israel] simultaneously?
A: The Resistance [Hezbollah] against Israel, who are stationed on the southern borders of Lebanon, are entirely concentrated on the Israeli occupier in body, mind, and soul. The
operations of the young men fighting on the eastern Lebanese-Syrian borders is entirely unrelated to the battles with the Israeli enemy, and anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional.
Q: So if we need to know a percentage of readiness?
A: With Israel? More than 100%, and this is the case all of the time. You can even label it as ‘holy’. Regarding the situation in the whole of Lebanon, Hezbollah is completely ready in all areas that Hezbollah has influence. We have nothing to do with areas where Hezbollah hold no influence.
Q: Now that you’ve mentioned this, we have heard news that Hezbollah is helping, either through training or arming, some parties in the Christian border towns. How accurate is that?
A: To be honest with you, I do not have information from Hezbollah about this subject in particular, but I have information from someone close to those (Christian) villages, like Deir El Ahmar and Ras Baalbak. Something like that is going on, so I have not heard this from Hezbollah, but I have heard it from someone close and he has confirmed this to me. This is all I can say
Q: Can you please clarify? What did he confirm? What did he say?
A: He confirmed that Hezbollah is protecting Christians with all possible means. For those who want to defend themselves with their own hands and weapons, Hezbollah is providing them with the means to be ready, which includes arming individuals.
Q: How many Christians are actually signing up for this?
A: I have heard that 90% of [Christian] villages… and the Lebanese Forces [political party] and the Phalange Party are not happy with that because no one is providing them with any support.
Q: In the Qalamoun and Arsal fronts, to be specific, who is Hezbollah fighting against?
A: 83 countries, all of them. Those who were fighting us in Qusair are now fighting us in the outskirts of Arsal, that is the mountainous area outside Arsal. Not inside Arsal, we are present in the mountains defending our land, country and Resistance. We will be where we should be. There are many nationalities: Uzbeks, Chechens, Egyptians, Palestinians, all of the gulf and Arab countries. We have 83 countries operating against us: the Europeans, Americans, British, you name it. God willing we will be victorious.
Q: Since you have mentioned the Americans, we are hearing that American and other airstrikes against ISIS are already underway. Can we say that there is a temporary intersection of interests between Hezbollah and the United States?
A: If I were to answer you about the Americans and their ISIS allies, we would be wasting time. You are a politician and a journalist and you understand these things, so us talking about this would be like us making fools out of each other. They (ISIS and the US) are allies and one team, period.
Q: If we were to give a description of the nature of the struggle now, the Americans are now bombing some ISIS positions and Hezbollah is fighting against ISIS and other groups.
A: When we fought ISIS, Nusra and terrorism everybody stood against us. Now everyone is saying what we were saying, but there is a difference in dealing with it. Hezbollah started two and a half years ago. They should come to us and strike an alliance with us. Isn’t that right? We are way ahead of all of them.
Q: In your opinion are these airstrikes and this alliance a pretext or a prelude to bomb some (Syrian) regime positions in Syria?
A: You need to see what is being prepared internationally. It will not be long. All will be clear in a matter of days. I do not have accurate information about this subject and I am not a political analyst. I can tell you about the nature of the terrain and soldiers. The geography of the battlefield, or what took place in this position or that. However, to talk about something international that I am not familiar with would be beyond me.
Q: Can you please tell us, without revealing any secrets, where is Hezbollah present on the ground in Syria?
A: I can answer about the areas that I was present in. The Sayyida Zeinab shrine [in Damascus], Ghouta [Damascus], Jobar [Damascus], the Damascus suburbs, and the mountains separating Lebanon and Syria. There is a Hezbollah presence in all of these areas. Qusair and the outskirts of Qusair. Aleppo. I have some friends who operate in Aleppo, in an area called Zahra, which has been under siege for three years. I have not heard of, seen, or been to other places.
Q: What is the nature of the frontlines in these places? Can we briefly talk about every front and how intertwined the lines are [with Nusra/ISIS/FSA]? How close is the engagement with the enemy?
A: This depends on the geography and terrain. In some places it’s house-to-house, window-to-window, man-to-man, and on some fronts, no one advances, neither them nor us. In the wider, more open areas, the snipers use 23mm and 57mm guns, not the Dushka or the12.7mm guns [because of the large distances]. Imagine that. The distances are vast. Every terrain has it’s own circumstances, geography and weaponry. There are some mountainous areas with rough terrain that have their own style because you can’t hide from each other at close range. You need to secure a hilltop and fortify it [and advance from] from one hilltop to another or one mountain to another. This is not house-to-house, so the nature of terrain makes a big difference.
Q: Was there a certain front that proved to be more difficult than others?
A: in terms of terrain or combat?
A: The mountains. There are vast distances beyond what the eye can see. This doesn’t offer the same help you get in towns like Qusair. This requires more troops and heavier weapons, aerial bombardment, artillery and tank fire. It has it’s own style and takes more time.
Q: Since you have mentioned aerial bombardment, what is the extent of coordination between Hezbollah and the Syrian army when it comes to military operations?
A: This is up to the leadership of Hezbollah. We have 100% accuracy when it comes to targeting. The targets that we request the Syrian air force to bomb are hit with 100% accuracy. Not 75% or 50% like it used to be before. This has changed after the battle of Qusair. This is what I can help you with. There were mistakes before, I won’t deny it, it happened with a number of groups. However, this stopped after Qusair.
Q: On the ground, in the areas where Hezbollah is present alongside the Syrian army, who has command on these fronts?
A: We do not participate in any attacks alongside the Syrian regime. The Syrian Army handles one front and we handle another. We deal with ours and they deal with theirs. Sometimes, this hasn’t happened to me, the Hezbollah and Syrian Arab Army forces are engaged and intertwined. However, in the fights that I was involved with in Hezbollah, we were in one place and the Syrian Arab Army was in another. Yes there exists coordination, but the lines are not intertwined.
Q: So in this case who is in command?
A: When you [Hezbollah] are on a certain front and they [the Syrian Army] are on another front, the field commander [of each side] has command, but the coordination is present so that we wouldn’t shell each other with artillery.
Q: We heard on Israeli Media that threats were being made against Lebanon and that there were preparations for war. In your opinion, how serious is this? And how will The Resistance [Hezbollah] retaliate? And what is their level of readiness?
A: We in The Resistance do not take the words of the Zionist enemy lightly. We have political and military minds and analysts who observe and analyze, in depth, on the short and long run when it comes to the Zionist enemy. This is due to wise leadership headed by the secretary general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.
Q: So you take the threats seriously?
A: We do not neglect anything regarding the Zionists, even if it were a small or big thing. All gets dealt with seriously and meticulously.
Q: Could there be an imminent war on the southern front? [Israeli front]
A: This is what we hope for.
Q: Can you please give me a complete answer because my question will not be aired?
A: This is what Hezbollah hopes for, for a war to start between the Zionist enemy and Hezbollah soon, God willing. This is what we hope for. This is what every member of Hezbollah hopes for.
Q: Can we say that The Resistance is fully ready?
A: Of course, you can say that with the utmost confidence.
Q: Tell us about a certain incident that will allow me to illustrate the influx of volunteers joining Hezbollah’s ranks. Do you recall a certain incident?
A: In what respect? Be more specific.
Q: In terms of influx and people wanting to join.
A: This is an ongoing process in Hezbollah. This [Hezbollah] is a school [of resistance] ever since they [Israelis] occupied our land in south Lebanon and Hezbollah, thanks to God and the young men, is growing in numbers. Hezbollah never deteriorated. For 30 or 32 years, since 1982, Hezbollah is on the rise, and thanks to the almighty God, whoever fights Hezbollah falls, declines and perishes. God willing, and the biggest proof of that is the Israeli withdrawal and the blows that were delivered to the Takfiris [Extremists] in Syria. We are continuing, God willing. This is a universal war against us and we are all-in.
Q: What do you say to some media outlets who are saying that Hezbollah and the Americans are now allies?
A: We are not even remotely concerned with these outlets. We never relied on those media outlets that you are asking about, nor on human rights or the United Nations charter. We do not care about all that. We rely first on God and then ourselves.
Q: So can you tell me if Hezbollah and the Americans are allies?
A: Your question is out of place.
Q: it is out of place because you and I know each other.
A: This is my opinion and my doctrine. This is all I can answer. We do not have a problem with the American people; we have a problem with American policies. Take a look at American policies in the Middle East and the world, from the times of Hiroshima until this day, and you will know if Hezbollah is with it or against it. We will let the viewers decide that.
Q: Is there a certain message that you would like to send to an audience that might be Arabic or western that will be viewing this interview?
A: We rely on people’s intelligence and awareness. [We do not rely on] People who are bought with money or intimidated by force or the media. There are honest people who take to the streets carrying the banners of resistance from Hamas to Hezbollah to the Islamic Jihad. These people and this resistance will never die. These people are there, but their rulers are corrupt. The people are present, just give them some hope of being able to express their opinions freely and they will do just that. They are entirely with us.
Q: There is a question that I forgot to ask at the beginning. Through your engagement with Takfiri [Extremist] groups, what can you say about the level of their training and arming?
A: They are being armed by all countries and their training comes from places as ranging from Turkey to Chechnya, to Iraq, the Balkans and Somalia. All of the areas where Al Qaeda and Wahhabis are active, from Yugoslavia, to Bosnia, and Serbia. Those who have not fought in these places are being trained in Turkey and Jordan, and in Saudi Arabia, according to some information. We are fighting 83 countries and an influx of money and media outlets and weapons and hundreds of thousands of fighters, but it is very well known where the Banner of God and his prophet lay. It lies with the just cause.
Q: Do you, as a person and as a Hezbollah fighter, have any fears that, after the upcoming airstrikes against ISIS, extremist fighters will spillover into Lebanon?
A: God willing, we are waiting for them. They are attacking civilians, children, old people and women.
Our fight with the Takfiris [Extremists] is in the battlefield, not in the different media outlets. We are in the field. If they want to fight Hezbollah, let them leave the civilians out of this and, if they are men as they claim, we are here. Let them come face us. We don’t kidnap or cut throats, we fight. The prisoner we take is a prisoner of war, while they cut throats of prisoners and wounded.
Q: Since you mentioned prisoners, it is no secret that Hezbollah has taken prisoners from these groups.
A: That is possible. I can neither confirm nor deny that. It is possible.
Q: I want to ask you about how you treat the prisoners you take from these groups, if you have taken any prisoners.
A: We follow the rules of the Islamic religion. When we released the Israeli enemy hostages, they themselves talked about how [well] they were treated. So how do you think we will treat those who are neither Jewish nor Zionists? Time will prove that
April 5, 2014
Ras al Ain, Syria
Younan Constantine Younan, a Syrian-christian from Ras al Ayn, was kidnapped by Jabhat al-Nusra and released for a 100 000USD ransom after 40 days of torture. Younan's experience illustrates the marriage of ideology and business when it comes to kidnapping by radical Islamic militias in Syria. While the ultimate goal of the kidnapping was to extort money and not to punish Younan for being christian, Younan believes that the fact that he is christian allowed the kidnappers to feel the kidnapping was ideologically acceptable and not against Islam.
Shot List and Translation:
Shots of the city of Ras al Ain.
Shots of the Syriac Church in the town, located next to Younan's house.
Shots of Younan inside the Church.
"I was kidnapped by the Gouiran battalion/ al Hasakah, I was tricked. My uncle owns a factory in western Ras al Ayn, just before Tell Halaf. We produce materials for building and construction. It was there that the battalion decided to settle in. We kept on asking them when would be leaving and they always replied "tomorrow, tomorrow, we will go and liberate al Hasakah". They were all citizens of al-Hasakah. One of the battalion's members was called Mohammad Aadouch. One day, they took all our trucks, stating that the trucks belong now to Jabhat al Nusra. We went to ask Jabhat al Nusra for our trucks, they replied the trucks aren't yours anymore. We kept on trying with the battalion and Jabhat al Nusra for 4 to 5 days to get our trucks back until the battalion's commander, called Tamim, said, 'I have the trucks and I will give them back to you after 2-3 days.' There was fighting in the area so we stayed home all day, and we went to meet with them every day around noon.
One day, he told us to go with him so he can show us where the trucks are, in a town called Al-Aziziyah. I went with my cousin. Right before arriving to Al-Aziziyah, we were ambushed by 6 fighters, some of them were in their cars, asking for our IDs. Once we gave them our IDs, they told us that we were "the wanted persons". The reason they said this was that my cousin had a farm that is worth a lot and, being Christian, his money was Halal. They pointed their AK-47 at us, handcuffed us, put us in the back of the vehicles and drove us to Ras al Ain, Allah only knows where to.
Once there, they told us our case was simple, a week maximum and we'll be free. On the tenth day, they called our parents, and asked them for 100,000 USD for each. We didn't have any contact with the kidnappers; they put us in a room, handcuffed and kept our eyes uncovered. They would only cover our eyes when the guards come in to give us food. On the fortieth day, they covered our eyes and they started to beat us with their hands, belts and riffles. We could tell that they were the same persons on the Gouiran Battalion because of their voices and their accents. While they were torturing us, our parents were on the phone, and they kept on asking them for money. After 4 hours of being tortured, they took us to a school they turned into a prison. We remained there until the fiftieth day, when they covered our heads and removed our handcuffs, and dropped us in a city called Suluk, in the countryside of Ar-Raqqah. We took a car to Ras al Ayn, where they took the money, the amount of 3,500,000 Syrian Pounds.
My uncle was dead when we came back, he never knew his son and nephew were kidnapped. The day after we went to check on the factory, we found out they stole everything; tools, metals, they left nothing. After few days, we discovered that all our personal papers and IDs were with Jabhat al Nusra. We realized that they were in coordination with the battalion that kidnapped us, when they told our parents before that they are working as an intermediary to set us free.
It was then when we realized that they were all the same."
August 3, 2014
Syrian militants clash with Lebanese Army soldiers in the town of Arsal, east of Lebanon.
According to the Lebanese National News Agency, NNA, Syrian Islamists launched a series of assaults on Saturday, August 2nd, after the Lebanese army arrested the Al-Nusra Front commander Imad Jumaa.
Sergeant George Khouri, north of al-Qoubaiyat
Nahi Bou Khalfoun, Rachaya, al-Wadi
Soldier Mohamad Hamiye, Shmustar
Soldier Mohamad al-Kadri, Ghazze, West Bekaa
Soldier Ibrahim Shaaban, North of Akkar
Soldier Ahmed Gheye, North of Akkar
Wael Darwish, Cheheem
Rayan Salam, Deir al-Ahamr, Rachaya, al-Wadi
A Jabhat al-Nusra fighter fires a truck-mounted heavy weapon in a battle between al-Nusra and ISIS in al-Hasakah Governorate in North-East Syria on June 20, 2014
Jabhat al-Nusra fighters fire an artillery round at an ISIS position in Deir Ezzour Province in Syria on June 6, 2014.
Jabhat al-Nusra fighters fire a truck-mounted heavy weapon at a position occupied by ISIS forces in the town of Jadeed Bakkara in eastern Deir Ezzour Province in Syria on May 18, 2014
Jabhat al-Nusra fighter fires a truck-mounted heavy weapon as al-Nusra forces attack an ISIS position in the town of Jadeed Bakkara in eastern Deir Ezzour Province in Syria on May 10, 2014.
The Sheitat Tribes of eastern Syria deliver heavy weapons to Jabhat al-Nusra fighters battling ISIS forces in the town of Jadeed Ekedat in Deir Ezzour Province on May 8, 2014.
Jabhat al-Nusra fighters assault an ISIS position in the town of al-Zirr in eastern Deir Ezzour province in Syria on May 7, 2014.
A Jabhat al-Nusra fighter fires a heavy machine gun mounted on a truck at an ISIS position in the town of al-Sobhah in eastern Deir Ezzour Province in Syria on May 5, 2014.
First Meeting Between ISIS Official and Clan Leaders in al-Zir Village
NOTE: The video clips in this collection were obtained by Transterra Media from a source who received it from a member of ISIS who defected from the group. According to the source the videos were recorded in the town of Zir and other locations in Syria between January and June, 2014.
Transterra Media cannot independently verify the accuracy of this content. The appearance of this video on the Transterra Media (TTM) website does not in any way constitute endorsement by TTM of any claims or statements made in the video.
This is a video of what appears to be a meeting between a Saudi ISIS official identified as Abu Abdullah Daigham and the heads of clans in the village of al-Zir in Deir al-Zor province. The meeting appears to have taken place in the house of a clan leader.
Deir Ezzor, Syria Photography and Interviews by Nils Metzger
VIDEO: FULL HD / PAL / 1080p / 16 x9, STEREO
RIGHTS AND RESTRICTIONS: All platform, Worldwide Rights Included. Affiliate Distribution, Resell Rights, Right to Archive and other custom licenses available on request. Exclusivity not available for this material.
STORY OVERVIEW: The city of Deir Ezzor in Eastern Syria used to be known throughout the country for its greenery, for its swimmers and for the Euphrates river. Now it is decimated by civil war and ruled by Islamist militias. Jihadi groups, like the infamous Jabhat al-Nusra, dominate the war against the Assad-regime. Here, they are far closer to establishing Islamist rule than anywhere else, and even the regular Free Syrian Army units consider themselves Islamist. In the rare video interviews below, they explain why they welcome foreign fighters in Syria and how they want to establish Islamic rule over Syria. They also discuss suicide bombings, their position towards religious minorities and their relations with al-Qaida in Iraq. CLICK ON INDIVIDUAL THUMBNAILS BELOW FOR FULL SHOT LIST, TRANSCRIPTION AND TRANSLATION.
VIDEO B-ROLL (TRT 15 minutes): Frontline battle footage of Free Syrian Army; a makeshift hospital; street warfare; urban food distribution; destroyed Armenian church; snipers; weaponry, including improvised mortars a and Russian anti-tank rockets; broad destruction of city, checkpoints, civilians.
INTERVIEWS (TRT 19 minutes): Member of the FSA-unit "al-Abbas," "Ahmad" Islamic Welfare and Food Distribution Activist, A civilian, "Abu Hasim," a Jabhat al-Nusra field commander and his spokesperson, "Abu Ishaq."
SUPPLEMENTAL MATERIAL: 1) A collection of still images featuring fighters, weapons and destruction in Deir Ezzor. 2) Video interviews and footage of makeshift Islamic-civillian court and prison close to Aleppo, including a leader of the newly formed "The Committee for the Protection of Virtue and Defense of the Oppressed" discussing Shariah law and his Islamic civilian police force. 3) Raw, HD video of rebel held areas in and around Aleppo, including interviews with a female FSA sniper.
A montage of sample clips from Deir Ezzor, Syria.
00:00 - 00:26
Wide shots of rubble, streets, destroyed buildings, markets
00:27 - 00:45
A guide explains how locals hang blankets to hide themselves from regime snipers.
01:25 - 02:09
A Destroyed Armenian church, home to the only exhibition on the Armenian genocide in the Middle East. It has been hit by mortar shelling, a few FSA fighters now try to protect it from possible looters.
All but one Christian family has fled from Deir Ezzor.
02:09 - 02:32
More decimated streets and markets.
Driving towards the airport frontlines. All planes and helicopters used to bomb the city are based here. For more than a month the Free Syrian Army has been trying to storm the airbase. Civilian buildings alongside the road have been abandoned and mostly destroyed.
Following Free Syrian Army rebels to the frontline. They hide their positions in fields and farm land. Landscape surrounding the airport of Deir Ezzor. A conquered regime position in the background. Free Syrian Army trench and sniper positions. One commander shows an empty AK-47 magazine. His troops are suffering heavily from ammunition shortage.
01:46 - 03:10
Rebels moving towards the airport walls. They shoot an improvised mortar round at enemy positions. In the background an oil well is burning. Most mortar rounds are build in improvised factories in Deir Ezzor.
03:10 - 05:18
Rebels assemble a Russian anti-tank rocket, fire it at government positions, then run for cover.
00:00 - 01:05
Surgeons operate on a severely wounded person.
01:06 - 02:14
B-roll of hospital, patients and supplies.
02:15 - 03:35
Interview Ahmed, a volunteer with al-Rawafed
Ahmed: This money comes from private organisations that help our organisation in a complete and continuous manner, to help this organisation go on with its great and hard work. Like we've said before, our volunteers already work in all areas, in everything, the kitchen, the bakery the food shop to prepare the food. The organisation feeds more than 500 families. It is currently responsible for over 500 families in this city. As much as we can we try to find a protected place for the organisation and the volunteers out of fear for their safety and to enable them to keep preparing food and to distribute it. This is because of the ferocity of the bombardment under which the people of this city have suffered for a long time.
04:45 - 06:05: Interview with resident at al-Rawafed social centre
Resident: For us, the aid we currently receive is absolutely necessary. Every day they distribute bread that is basic food, and then there are additional things. The people cannot work, the shops are closed, the houses destroyed and everyone is out of work . The aid organisations help the citizens that have stayed in the country to live. Staying in our country is better than living refugee camp. This country is our country and will stay our country. The more it is destroyed and the more it decays, the more will we resist the bombardment. We can never abandon this country. I have no intention to go to a refugee camp.
R: The land is inhabited by it's people, we will properly live here again. We are calm and we are not afraid, No one else will live here. We will stay here and live here.
R: We do not care about this any more, the bombardments and the destruction. We are people who believe in God and fear no one but Him, he is the one who cares for us and protects us.
06:05 - 06:20
A child collecting bread
00:00 - 01:28: Wide shots of destroyed city streets and blocks
04:02: An explosion with the sound of an airplane flying overhead as interviewee speaks.
06:57: Fighter fires machine gun from building
01:29 - 02:31
Interview with a fighter from the Al-Abbas Katiba
Fighter: So, first of all, they call me Abu Halab, I am a fighter from the al-Abbas Katiba and I am in charge of this zone of the Hatel quarter, against the regime's army.
F: Of course, we were forced to pick up arms. We are civilians, normal people, no one if front us or behind us. We had to start carrying weapons because of this situation, this ferocious campaign. We are facing an organised army, with tanks, rockets fire, an air force, artillery, all sorts of weapons. We had to pick up arms to counter this attack and the army. This is how it is, and this is the situation we are living in.
F: We are currently staying in this place. We eat and drink and sleep here. In terms of battles, we're constantly watching the army. They've got positions close by. In case we see any movement, so if a tanks moves, or soldiers, we engage them.
02:32 - 04:41
Translator: So you're guarding the place in shifts?
F:Yes, there is always someone on guard. 24 hours a day. But this is urban warfare. Sometimes we have to enter houses and it turns to a house-by-house battle.
F: Concerning the liberation of Syria, there are a few obstacles. The biggest problem is ammunition, we do not have enough. All the ammunition I have I carry. I cannot give it to all the others This is the sound of plane flying above us.
T: A helicopter
F: Yes. Speaking of the helicopters, we do not have anything like that and have nothing to fight them with. We need some rockets to shoot down the planes. To stop the air strikes and to frighten the army we are fighting. Our enemies need to know that we are weakert. We have automatic rifles, RPGs, so we can sort of deal with tanks, but for the air force we need missiles.
F: First I will talk about the situation in general and them speak about Deir El-Zor specifically.
The media in Syria always focusses on one certain place, for example Halab, Sham or Homs. But Deir Ezzor is completely marginalised. Sometimes, and very unregularily it comes up in the news and not always correct and complete. In Deir Ezzor, the media cover maybe 10 to 15 percent of what happens in this zone, but they do not transmit a clear or true picture. I only ask one thing from the media, that they come here and transmit the truth, the images of this situation in its correct form. We do not want the picture to be distorted. We want the truthful image, that of destrcution...
04:42 - 05:28
T: The image of this truth, destruction, injustice
F: Well, you can see with your own eyes where we are now: the destruction, there is nothing left. We are grateful for you. This is the first time that I see journalists coming here to film anything.
F: With regards to living in the country and us as fighters, the country needs security forces to maintain order, the army needs to order it. We want to move on from this phase to the phase of adjusting the country. The country needs jobs, like carpenter or painters and so on, all of them need to participate in this question, and in reforming security. Everyone who has an interest and can help. And God willing we will be able to live in this country, step by step.
05:29 - 09:21: B-roll: Members of "al-Abbas"-Katiba try to conquer a building controlled by the Syrian Army: City Destruction, Action shots, battle scenes, gunfire
Interview with Abu Hasim, a Jabhat al-Nusra field commander (dressed in black), and Abu Ishaq, his spokesperson (blue sweater), conducted at their headquarters in Deir Ezzor. They explain why they welcome foreign fighters in Syria and how they want to establish Islamic rule over Syria. Among other things, they address suicide bombings, their position towards religious minorities and their relations with al-Qaida in Iraq.
01:44 - 01:51
In the phase following Bashar's removal, our first and primary objective is to establish an Islamic nation ruled by the Qur'an.
02:53 - 03:16
With some groups that are fighting the regime, we believe that there are shared interests in terms of overthrowing Bashar. But after Bashar is gone, we have our own aims and plans.
Terrorism is a doctrine for Muslims.
04:25 - 04:32
We do not receive financial support from other countries-- not from Al Qaeda, the Arab League or NATO.
11:55 - 12:08
Until now, Christians have not turned against us. We'll deal with the issue of Christians, Armenians and other minorities after we get rid of Bashar.
00:00 - 00:44
Abu Ishaq: I will speak in terms in accordance with Sharia law, so the term revolutionaries is not acceptable, we are waging Jihad. I see myself as one of the mujahideen, fighters who have gone out to fight in the name of God and establish God's law in this land, and this is a legitimate right that is in our hands. Bush spoke of the war in Iraq as a crusade, citing the Bible. So as Muslims we have the right to follow this religion and to fight against anyone who stands between us and this objective.
00:45 - 02:07
AI: The truth of the matter is that the infidels are the ones who enter our lands so we are not the ones who attack them. At the moment, we see the FSA as a legitimate group that defends the faith and we support them to be victorious. This is how it looks to us. In the future, we may act differently, but at the current time we support the FSA against Bashar and his allies to overthrow them. We show them the meaning of self-sacrifice and Jihad, which is not limited to carrying arms, as the Prophet said: “Fight the inidels with your money, souls and tongues.” So Jihad in our Islamic Sharia has all these forms, fighting with weapons, with the pen, helping the poor, protecting public institutions, all these are forms of Jihad.In the phase following Bashar's removal, our first and primary objective is to establish an Islamic nation ruled by the Qur'an. In terms of the civil state, if this is to be a civil state as to the fact that it's governed by institutions, this is not against the law. But if it is to be a democratic state then of course we say no. But if it is a country of institutions according to God's prescription, then yes.
02:08 - 03:24
AI: This is our aim, an Islamic civil state. Like Abu Satef says, if it is a country against Islamic prescriptions then we don not agree to it, but if we say we create this, this and that institutions then we are OK with it – there are two meanings to the word civil.
AI: This is one of the faulty ideas, that politics and Sharia are far apart. There is a book called “The Book of Sharia Politics”, written by some scholars, and some concepts can confuse people. Politics is a part of religion, and it is not to be separated from religion – otherwise we would become secularists. With some groups that are fighting the regime we believe that there are shared interests in terms of overthrowing Bashar. But after Bashar is gone, we have our own aims and plans. We know that we are in the right.
03:25 - 04:10
AI: Since the time of the Prophet until God takes over his land and who is on it there will be falsehoods. When Muhammad came out with his call, they said he was a poet, a wizard, a liar. This is the way of unjust people, tarnishing the people who are in the right. And terrorism is a doctrine for Muslims.
04:11 - 09:06 [partial translation]
AI: No, these are lies, the Front is a group among many that fight for Syria to topple the dictator and install the law of God. We do not receive financial support from other countries-- not from Al Qaeda, the Arab League or NATO.
AI: First, all our strenght comes from and is the will of God. It is the faith of our fighters, the suicide attacks of our heroes that make us what we are in relation to other groups. But our weapons we have obtained from Bashar's soldiers.
AI: The mass media spread false allegations in order to destroy the truth. How can we compare suicide attacks with bombings by American fighter jets that destroy entire cities? They are just a drop in the ocean. One or two civilians get killed but if we compare this to thousands who get killed by German or US soldiers in Afghanistan then you have to agree this comparison is unjust.
Deir Ezzor is suffering from the absence of foreign media. Especially if you think about that this is the region in Syria with the most oil. But thank God we are advancing every single day and we will pursue this goal until every square meter of Deir Ezzor and Syria is freed.
AI: alhammdulah we have many members ... but I can not tell exactly how many we have. We have no financial support from al-Qaeda or Arab countries or any foreign country. All our weapons were snatched by our heroes from regime soldiers in battles.
AI: What characterizes the Front in combat situations is the courage and the discipline of our fighters. Thank God many fighters arrived who helped in past revolutions in Libya and Iraq. This is what makes us stronger in combat. We have many specialists and missile experts. Also our social work has been well accepted by the Syrian people. We are known for our our services and that we protect their property.
(question: There are many rumors circulating about the al-Midan bombings in January 2012 especially since many civilians have been killed – were these the first attacks by Jabhat al-Nusra?)
AI: There is no proof that our brothers were responsible for this operation. According to my knowledge, the regime planed them in order to destroy the positive image of the fighters. They have not presented us with proof. If al-Nusra were responsible for this attack it would have been one of the very few mistakes. In every military organization orders by the commander have to be followed, this is also true for those by Abu Muhammad al-Golani. This is true for combat units but also for the Emirs who lead entire cities. In the end they all respond to the orders of Sheikh al-Golani.
09:07 - 10:44
Abu Hasim: There are courses and training camps but those are all secret and no one must tell about them. Al-Nusra is always working in secret until it strikes...
We have in many ways a special relationship with the media. Most of our operations are secret and they are superior for being secret. That way no rumors get out – no one manipulates more than the media...
10:45 - 11:07
There are many false rumours about us. Jabhat al-Nusra is in a situation of self-defense. We defend the people of Syria. It is Bashar who murders children and rapes women. We are not responsible for that.
It is America, Walid bin Talal and the Jews who control the media.
11:08 - 12:00
... [missing translation] AH: Our aim is to demonstrate our faith to the almighty God and to end the injustice against muslims. This includes Christians and all other faiths that accept the divine sharia.
11:55 - 12:08
AI: Until now, Christians have not turned against us. We'll deal with the question of Christians, Armenians and other minorities after we get rid of Bashar.