Al-Qaeda in Syria Leader: Kill Alawite Minority, Russians; Christians fear West Backs Him
The leader of al-Qaeda in Syria, Abu Muhammad al-Julani, has called for an escalation in attacks on the population centers of the Alawite Shiite minority.
The president of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, and other leading members of the ruling Baath Party belong to this folk sect of Islam. Alawites constitute 10-14 percent of Syrians, or 2 to 3 million persons, and predominate in the northwestern area of Latakia.
While it would be unfair to blame all Alawites for it, the al-Assad regime has used tanks and aerial bombardment against Syrian dissidents, turning what had been a peaceful protest movement into a vicious civil war, killing tens of thousands, and displacing millions. The regime also kidnapped large numbers of dissidents and tortured an estimated 10,000 to death.
Al-Qaeda leader Al-Julani said in a speech broadcast via YouTube that the Russian intervention aims at saving the government of al-Assad from collapse, but that it would fail, just as the military support of Iran and Hizbullah had failed. He added that “there is no choice but to escalate the battle and to target Alawite villages and townships in Latakia.” He called on all the elements of al-Qaeda to “bombard all these villages with hundreds of rockets daily, just as Russia is targeting Sunni villages and towns.”