The leader of al Qaeda's Syria affiliate vowed Sunday that his group would "use all possible means" to fight back against airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition and warned that the conflict would reach Western countries joining the alliance.
The U.S. views the affiliate, known as the Nusra Front, as a terrorist group, but Syrian rebels have long seen it as a potent ally against both the ISIS extremist group — which is the main target of the coalition — and Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces.
In a 25-minute audio recording, Nusra Front leader Abu Mohammed al-Golani portrayed the U.S.-led coalition as a "Crusader alliance" against Sunni Muslims and vowed to fight back.
"We will use all that we have to defend the people of Syria ... from the Crusader alliance," al-Golani said. "And we will use all possible means to achieve this end," he said, without offering more details. He went on to warn Western nations, saying of the airstrikes, “This is what will cause the battle to be transported to the hearts of your own homes.”
The United States and five Arab allies launched an air campaign against ISIS fighters in Syria on Tuesday. Some of the initial strikes targeted the Nusra Front, killing dozens of its fighters. Washington said it was trying to take out an al Qaeda cell known as the Khorasan Group that was actively plotting attacks against Americans and Western interests.
- War of Words: Is Obama Losing the ISIS Propaganda Battle?
- Obama: U.S. 'Underestimated' the Rise of ISIS
- Airstrikes Hit ISIS Oil Refinery