The head of al-Qaida’s Syrian affiliate has called on jihadis in the Caucasus to attack Russian civilians and soldiers in retaliation for Moscow’s airstrikes in Syria.
“If the Russian army kills the people of Syria, then kill their people. And if they kill our soldiers, then kill their soldiers. An eye for an eye,” Abu Mohamed al-Jolani, the head of Nusra Front, said in an audio recording released late Monday.
He pledged that Moscow’s air war in Syria, which began Sept. 30, would have dire consequences for Russia.
“The war in Syria will make the Russians forget the horrors that they found in Afghanistan,” al-Jolani said, adding: “They will be shattered, with God’s permission, on Syria’s doorstep.”
Russia has said its aerial raids are targeting the Islamic State group, a jihadi rival of Nusra, as well as other extremist groups.
Moscow’s strikes have concentrated on areas in northwestern Syria where Nusra has a powerful presence, mostly in the province of Idlib.
A U.S.-led air coalition fighting IS in Syria has also targeted Nusra on several occasions.
Al-Jolani called on armed opposition groups to set aside their differences until both air wars had been defeated.
“Delay the disputes until the demise and smashing of the Western crusader and Russian campaign on Syrian land,” he said.