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WASHINGTON – Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq, both Sunni terrorist groups fighting against the Shiite Alawite regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, are forming a cross-border zone between Iraq and Syria that poses increasing problems of regional stability, according to a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
The Islamic State of Iraq group has been staging attacks in Iraq ever since the United States withdrew troops at the end of 2011. Their attacks have been persistent, resulting in Iran providing more direct help, along with Hezbollah, to the Shiite regime of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
With the civil war in neighboring Syria intensifying, Islamic State of Iraq fighters along Iraq’s westernmost Sunni provinces began to send fighters into Syria’s eastern provinces. From there, they made their way throughout Syria, joining forces with the Syrian opposition forces.
These fighters move illegally across a 600-kilometer, or 373-mile, stretch of territory between Mosul in northwestern Iraq and Anbar in western Iraq. This wide stretch also was used for fighters from Syria to go into Iraq to fight U.S. troops during the Iraqi war. Now, it not only is a transit region for Sunni fighters going into Syria but also serves as a route for Iranian weapons and fighters to bolster the al-Assad regime.
The movement of these fighters, however, remains outside the control both of Damascus and Baghdad. The area is rugged and Syria, for its part, needs all of its military for now to fight the foreign fighters in Syria’s western portion where the Shiite Alawites are concentrated, al-Assad’s home base.
Because these fighters are battle hardened, they quickly took over the initiative of the armed opposition in launching attacks against Syrian government forces, posing a more serious threat not only to the Syrian regime but to the country itself.
As WND has previously reported, al-Nusra and the Islamic State of Iraq fighters, along with such other fighters from Chechnya in the Caucasus and Islamist groups out of Iraq, Tunisia, Libya and Saudi Arabia, are battling the Syrian government.
They systematically and strategically have targeted Syria’s critical infrastructure. Their approach has been very destructive, something sources say the Syrian opposition did not contemplate.
Concerned about the fall of the al-Assad regime, al-Maliki has warned that “a Syrian opposition victory would lead to the breakout of a civil war in Lebanon and divisions in Jordan, as well as a sectarian war in Iraq.”
He has directed Iraqi forces to move to the border region with Syria. They also have been engaging in fighting with Iraqi tribes that have sided with the Islamic State of Iraq fighters. This is in addition to helping Syrian military forces and ensuring that aid gets to Syrian government forces.
To do this, the Iraqi army formed the Jazeera and Badiya Operation Command in which new combat regiments of some 4,000 troops recently were sent to the Syrian border. They’ve been heavily engaged in fighters since the deployment.
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