In a newly released video by Junud al Sham (seen above), the group states that they are fighting alongside the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP) in Syria near Jisr al Shughur in Idlib.
In the video, an English-speaking fighter (with what sounds like a British accent) explains what has been happening in the current rebel offensive in and near the city. Muslim Shishani, the leader of Junud al Sham, also makes an appearance in the video where he is directing the fighters on the battlefield. However, before the video begins, a caption says "Katibah Turkistan and Junud al Sham." As I recently explained in The Long War Journal, "Katibah Turkistan" or "Katibat Turkistan" is simply another name for the TIP in Syria.
Several jihadist Twitter accounts have previously mentioned and promoted this "Katibah Turkistan." Several of these tweets have shown photos released by Islam Awazi, the TIP's official media wing, showing its fighters in Syria. Additionally, several other jihadist twitter accounts, including one claiming to be in the area, have claimed that the TIP is taking a larger role in this fight than initially thought. One account has claimed that the TIP has captured, or has helped capture, two regime checkpoints in Jisr al Shughur.
TIP and Junud al Sham are fighting under the "Battle of Victory" coalition, which also includes the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda's official branch in Syria, Ahrar al Sham, Ansar Sham, Jaish al Islam, the Jabhat Ansar al Din coalition of Harakat Sham al Islam, Jaish al Muhajireen wal Ansar and Harakat Fajr al Sham al Islamiyya, and Jamaat Ansar al Islam fi bilad al Sham (the Syrian remnant faction of Ansar al Islam), along with many other groups.
The fighting against the Assad regime is taking place near Jisr al Shughur and Al Mastoumah in Idlib, in Latakia near Jisr al Shughur, and in the Al Ghab plains in Hama. For more on this fighting, see my colleague Thomas Joscelyn's report on this here.
The TIP fights in China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and in Syria. In the latter country, the TIP has long operated in Syria alongside the Al Nusrah Front in Idlib. In May of last year, one of its fighters, identified as Dadullah al Turkistani, detonated himself as part of a coordinated assault with Al Nusrah in the northwestern province. That same operation included the detonated of American Nusrah fighter, Abu Hurayra al Amriiki. The TIP, through its media outlet Islam Awazi, has identified several of its fighters killed fighting alongside Al Nusrah in Syria.
Several TIP senior leaders have also been appointed to top positions in al Qaeda’s network in Pakistan. For example, Abdul Shakoor Turkistani, the former emir of TIP, was also appointed by al Qaeda to lead its forces in Pakistan’s tribal provinces. For more on this, see my colleague Bill Roggio's report on this here.
Junud al Sham is a group predominately comprised of fighters from the North Caucasus, but also includes some Western fighters such as Chechen diaspora from Germany or Austria. The group also has some British fighters, according to Aymenn al Tamimi. Muslim Shishani has fought in the Caucasus under Ibn Khattab, a Saudi who led al Qaeda’s International Islamic Brigade in Chechnya. Muslim has been in Syria since 2012, according to . Muslim was designated by the US as a foreign terrorist in Sept. 2014.