Jund al-Aqsa

Jund al-Aqsa
جند الأقصى
Participant in the Syrian Civil War and
the War on Terror[1]

Flag of Jund al-Aqsa

Emblem of Jund al-Aqsa
Active January 2014 – 13 October 2016
Ideology Salafist jihadism[2]

Abu Dhar al-Najdi al-Harethi[3]

Abu Abdulaziz al-Qatari[4] 
Abu Musab al-Ansari 
Said Arif [1]
Headquarters Idlib, Idlib Governorate, Syria [1]
Area of operations Hama Governorate, Syria
Idlib Governorate, Syria[5]
Aleppo Governorate, Syria[6]
  • 1,000+ (2014)[6]
  • 600 (2015)[7]
  • 800 (before October 2016)[8]
  • 1,600 (since October 2016)[8]
Part of
Originated as Sarayat al-Quds
Became Jabhat Fateh al-Sham

State opponents

Other rebels

Battles and wars

Syrian Civil War

Jund al-Aqsa (Arabic: جند الأقصى, Soldiers of al-Aqsa) is a Salafist jihadist rebel group that has been active during the Syrian Civil War.[5] Formerly known as Sarayat al-Quds, the group was founded by Abu Abdul 'Aziz al-Qatari as a subunit within the al-Nusra Front.[6] The group later became independent because al-Nusra was growing too rapidly for its resources and had suffered by fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[6] The United States Department of State has designated Jund al-Aqsa a terrorist organization.[13] The group was disbanded and integrated into Jabhat Fateh al-Sham. [14]


In early 2014, the group was reportedly composed of mostly non-Syrian Arab fighters.[15] By the end of the year, it had reportedly become a Syrian-majority group, partly because of defections from other Syrian rebel groups.[6]

In February 2014 Jund al-Aqsa captured the town of Ma'an and massacred more than 21 Alawite civilians, half of them women and children.

Jund al-Aqsa is part of the Muhajirin wa-Ansar Alliance, though as of 2015 this appears to no longer be the case.

On the 23 October 2015, Jund al-Aqsa left the Army of Conquest because it had misgivings about fighting against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, while reaffirming its loyalty to al-Qaeda.[16] On 17 February 2016, over 400 fighters and senior leaders of Jund al-Aqsa defected to al-Nusra Front.[7][17]

In the February 2016 Khanasir offensive, Jund al-Aqsa and ISIL temporarily cut off the Syrian government's supply route to Aleppo, sharing war booty captured from Syrian forces before retreating.

In late August 2016 Jund al-Aqsa announced an offensive in the northern Hama Governorate. During this offensive, it used a drone to drop a small bomb.[18]

In October 2016, clashes between Jund al-Aqsa and Ahrar al-Sham escalated throughout the Idlib Governorate, with both sides expelling the other from several towns and villages.[19] During the clashes 800 other rebels reportedly defected to Jund al-Aqsa, increasing the group's strength up to 1,600 fighters.[8]

As a result of the clashes, the group pledge allegiance to Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.[9]

Designation as a terrorist organization

Country Date Reference
 United Kingdom [20]
 United States 20 September 2016 [21]
 Saudi Arabia [22]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 "An internal struggle: Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate is grappling with its identity". Brookings Institution. 31 May 2015. Retrieved 1 June 2015.
  2. "The new face of the Syrian rebellion". The Arab Chronicle. 5 March 2014. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  3. Arterbury, John. "Striving for "the Grandest Epics": Forecasting the Future of Jund al-Aqsa". Bellingcat. Bellingcat. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  4. "ISIL Commanders Killed in Syria, Iraq". Fars News. 7 January 2014. Retrieved 19 May 2014.
  5. 1 2 3 4 "The Other Syrian Peace Process". Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. 27 January 2014. Retrieved 15 May 2014.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 "Why Did Jund Al-Aqsa Join Nusra Front in Taking Out 'Moderate' Rebels in Idlib?". Huffington Post. 6 November 2014. Retrieved 10 November 2014.
  7. 1 2 "Jund al Aqsa leaders join Al Nusrah Front". The Long War Journal. 17 February 2016.
  8. 1 2 3 "Source: hundreds of fighters to leave their factions (Jund al-Aqsa) within two month". All4Syria. 7 October 2016.
  9. 1 2 "Syria extremist group joins al-Qaida affiliate". AP. 9 October 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  10. "Reports: Al-Nusra Front leaves Jaish al-Fatah coalition in Syria". Middle East Eye. 30 October 2015.
  11. "Al Qaeda seizes territory from moderate Syrian group". Reuters. 28 October 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
  12. "Rebels launch full-on assault of Idlib city". Syria Direct. Retrieved 25 March 2015.
  13. "State Department Terrorist Designation of Jund al-Aqsa". U.S. Department of State. Retrieved 20 September 2016.
  14. https://twitter.com/hxhassan/status/785548889080360960
  15. "Another Split Among Chechen Jihadists over Fight with ISIS". From Chechnya to Syria. 4 March 2014. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
  16. "Al Qaeda front group claims success in key Syrian town". Long War Journal. 5 November 2015. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
  17. "Charles Lister". Twitter. 17 February 2016.
  18. https://twitter.com/bm27_uragan/status/771821523199942656. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  19. "Jihadist civil war boils up as jihadists trade blows in Hama and Idlib". Al-Masdar News. 7 October 2016.
  20. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/509003/20160318proscription.pdf
  21. "State Department Terrorist Designation of Jund al-Aqsa". State.gov. 2016-09-20. Retrieved 2016-09-21.
  22. "Syrian terrorist list produces 163 names and no agreement". Reuters. 17 February 2016.
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