first published on November 28, 2017 by Sean
Another Jihadist group pops up in Syria, there’s a shocker. Need a score card to keep track at this point.
The Turkestan Islamic Party (TIP), a central Asian Uighur Jihadist group with deep ties to al Qaeda, has released a propaganda video recently claiming the destruction of several SAA tanks in Mustarihah, Syria. This relatively obscure group unexpectedly hails from western China, claiming the state of “East Turkestan” in Xinjiang province and has been an active terror threat in China, Pakistan, and Afghanistan for years.
The group has purportedly been operating in Syria since at least 2012, further strengthening its ties with the Syrian branch of al Qaeda. Having just released another propaganda video highlighting a large, albeit staged military convoy in Syria just a few weeks ago, the group appears to be at the forefront of al Qaeda operations against the SAA.
TIP is seemingly operating in Northeastern Hama province; apart of the Idlib rebel pocket largely controlled by al Qaeda rebranded Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS). The video shows a small group of TIP fighters repelling several SAA tanks and infantry.
Though using light weapons (just small arms and RPG’s), they don’t run in the face of an armored assault like most other factions engaged in the Syrian conflict. As we’ve seen time and again, just the presence of a tank or BMP is often enough to send defenders fleeing and the position easily captured. They even undergo an airstrike, firing rocket after rocket at their aggressors and eventually knocking out at least one SAA tank. The Jihadi’s set the tank on fire, concluding the video. The village of Mustarihah has changed hands several times recently, with the SAA controlling it at present.
Keeping track of the numerous extremist groups operating in conflicts like Syria can be complicated and often seem gratuitous. But understanding the alliances and networks of these groups can only serve to help friendly nations combat and eliminate them. TIP has connections with al Qaeda and operates in China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Syria; probably rubbing shoulders with the Taliban and Haqqani network in the process. Identifying and targeting these groups and their elaborate networks is one most effective actions the West can take to prevent further spread of Jihadist ideologies.