The leader of Syria's Nusra Front opposition group mourned the death of Al Qaeda's deputy leader Nasser al Wuhayshi in an audio message that emphasised Nusra’s close links to Al Qaeda.
This audio message negates rumours of separation between the Nusra and Al Qaeda. The Nusra is Al Qaeda's offshoot in Syria, however sources close to and in the group told Reuters “This year it was considering distancing itself from the parent group so that it could attract funding from a wider range of donors.”
Nusra's grand leader Abu Mohammed al Golani posted on YouTube the Audio message mourning Nasser al Wuhayshi who was killed in a US bombing in Yemen on June 16, urged his followers “not to despair and advised his successor to be cautious.”
Wuhayshi’s deputy Qassim al Rimi has been named as the group's new leader, the media wing of Al Qaeda reportedly said after Wuhayshi’s death.
"Put your effort into your command, don't trust your enemies and use caution, because a leader is nothing but cautious," Golani said in the audio lamentation.
Al Wuhayshi was Al Qaeda's second-in-command after Ayman al Zawahri, and a former private secretary and bodyguard of Osama Bin Laden.
The Nusra is one of the most prominent Syrian opposition factions on the ground, battling Syrian President Bashar al Assad, and that its leader, Golani, recently had a TV interview with al Jazeera’s Ahmed Mansour on May 28.
Golani stressed the group’s ambitions lie solely in defeating the Syrian regime and its allies as he set the group’s sights on capturing Damascus.
"We will continue our focus on Damascus and on toppling this regime," Golani said in the interview aired on Wednesday, "I assure you, Assad's fall won't take a long time."
“Al-Nusra’s mission in Syria is the overthrow of the regime and its allies such as Hezbollah, We will not use the Levant as a military base to attack Europe and America, [we are] acting upon clear directions given by leader of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri,” he said regarding the group’s intentions.
Condemning the Assad regime for engaging in sectarian warfare against Syria’s Sunni population, Golani pledged to not harm Alawite Shiites in areas entered by Nusra, so long as they don't show resistance to the group.