Palestinians Head for Syria to Fight Assad

YERUSHALAYIM -

The flow of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Syria to fight alongside rebel forces there is on the rise, The Jerusalem Post reported on Tuesday, quoting Palestinian sources.

In the first year of the crisis, only a few Palestinians headed to Syria through Turkey to join the uprising against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, the sources said.

The sources told the Palestinian Al-Quds newspaper that most of the Palestinians going to fight in Syria were members of Salafi and Jihadi terrorist groups in Gaza.

Some of them belonged to Hamas and its armed wing before joining the even more radical Islamist groups, according to the sources.

Abu al-Ayna al-Ansari, a leader of one of the Salafi groups in the Gaza Strip, confirmed the development, saying they had gone to join the ranks of the “mujahideen [warriors] of Jabhat al-Nusra, which is fighting against the criminal regime in Syria.”

Established in January 2012, Jabhat al- Nusra was recently designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization.

Ansari said that all the Palestinians traveling to Syria did so voluntarily. He would not say whether the men had been sent to Syria in coordination with the Syrian Free Army.

Evidence of the involvement of Palestinians in the fighting in Syria surfaced six months ago when Nidal al-Eshi, 23, of the Gaza Strip, was killed in the Syrian town of Aleppo.

Eshi fled the Gaza Strip 18 months ago after being accused of launching a terror attack on a vehicle belonging to the International Committee of the Red Cross in the town of Beit Hanun in northern Gaza.