KABUL: An al-Qaida-linked group in Syria is congratulating the people of Afghanistan for the “dear victory” achieved by the Taliban.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, or the Levant Liberation Committee, compared the Taliban’s control of much of Afghanistan with the early Muslim conquests.
The group, also known as HTS, is the most powerful faction in rebel-held parts of northwest Syria. Over the past months it has been working on improving its image by distancing itself from extremist ideology.
Some of the founding members of the group — which used to be known as the Nusra Front — include Arab commanders who were close to Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan. Many of them were killed in U.S. drone attacks in Syria over the past years.
In 2017, Brett McGurk, then top U.S. envoy for the coalition battling the Islamic State group, said that Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib had become the largest al-Qaida haven since Afghanistan in bin Laden’s days.
In a statement released late Wednesday, HTS said “no matter how long it takes, righteousness will end up victorious.” It added: “Occupiers don’t last on usurped lands no matter how much they harm its people.”
HTS said it hopes that insurgents in Syria will be also victorious by learning from the experience of the Taliban to remove the government of President Bashar Assad, its adversary in the country’s 10-year conflict.