Last week, I explored several pictures and a video produced by Islam Awazi, the Turkestan Islamic Party's (TIP) official media wing, alleging to show its fighters in Syria. While not much information was given about the fighters in Syria in the video, it can be determined that several dozen fighters fight in Syria under "Turkestan Islamic Party in the Land of Syria". It can also be determined that they fight under the loyalty of Mullah Omar of the Taliban.
Additionally, other pictures were found on Twitter showing this branch in Syria. These pictures again show at least several dozen fighters. Keeping up with the TIP's trend of publicizing children in its ranks, some pictures also show children with them in Syria. Other photos show at least two tanks, but it is unsure if these tanks are operational or not. In one photo, a woman is shown with an SVD sniper rifle; this photo may, however, be a promotional picture. And other photos show two fighters on an anti-aircraft weapon. [For more on this, see my previous article here]
In a new video I discovered, Islam Awazi showcased two suicide bombers that detonated in Syria. One of those fighters (shown above), detonated during an operation conducted by the Al Nusrah Front in Idlib. Al Nusrah is al Qaeda's official branch in Syria. Based off of the TIP's relationship with al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, this shouldn't be a surprise that TIP fighters in Syria operate alongside al Qaeda. The operation this fighter was involved in made international headlines when another Nusrah suicide bomber was found to be an American.
Abu Hurayra al Amriiki detonated on regime positions in Idlib on May 27, 2014. Al Amriiki detonated with three other fighters and according to Al Nusrah, one was from the Maldives, one Syrian, and another from Turkestan. Thomas Joscelyn, my colleague over at The Long War Journal, covered this by saying this is "likely a reference to Central Asia or China."
The second suicide bomber (first chronologically in the video) is shown before his operation talking in front of a camera and behind a row of trees. The background for the segments of the video dedicated to him also appear in Idlib. My friend and colleague Aymenn al Tamimi also told me that the background appears to be that of Idlib. However, this fighter's detonation was never shown in the video. The video also ends by showing a montage of various suicide bombings undertaken by the TIP in Afghanistan.
While it cannot be completely confirmed that fighters showcased in this video belonged to the TIP, the fact that Islam Awazi dedicated a video to two Uyghur militants in Syria makes it seem likely that they might have been. Moreover, if these fighters did, in fact, belong to TIP, then that means the TIP has conducted suicide operations in Syria. Not only that, but that means the TIP has conducted suicide attacks to support al Qaeda outside of Afghanistan.
Based on new information gathered from TIP's tweets, the suicide bomber featured at the beginning was named Dadullah and was in fact a member of TIP. Based on the wording of another tweet, Dadullah performed the suicide attack in conjunction with Nusrah but still acting within the TIP.
It also appears the group is running a Shariah school for children in Syria. See the picture below:
Based on the TIP's history of running training camps for children and based on the weapons behind these kids, it could be possible this Shariah school is connected to a training camp where these kids are being taught to use such weaponry. Similar schools have been showcased with various other groups in Syria.
New tweets have been posted by Islam Awazi this morning. One tweet confirms that the second suicide bomber discussed above was also a member of the TIP and did detonate somewhere in Idlib. That picture can be seen below:
Additionally, they confirmed my suspicion that they are running a training camp for kids somewhere in northern Syria. It is likely in Idlib, but it could be in Latakia according to Aymenn al Tamimi. Several children are shown in this camp training with weapons, martial arts, and in Shariah as seen above. A picture from this series of tweets can be seen below: