The group’s leader, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, a former al Qaeda fighter, has vowed to conquer Damascus and impose Islamic rule across Syria. in a January speech, he exhorted followers to engage in “a war of ideas, a war of minds, a war of wills, a war of perseverance,” according to the SITE Intel Group.
Thousands of fighters with the group—an offshoot of the Nusra Front, al Qaeda’s former Syrian affiliate—have dug in around Idlib, analysts say, as the U.S. concentrates on Syria’s other battles and moves toward what President Donald Trump has said would be a quick exit from Syria.
“The area seems to be out of focus for Western powers,” said Hassan Hassan, a Washington-based analyst with the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, a think tank. “The jihadis are having a honeymoon there.”
Bill Whittle once compared killing terrorists to mowing the lawn — a chore that has to be done regularly, or else your yard becomes overgrown.