A new twist in the conflict in Syria is emerging with the rise of the Al-Nusra Front, a shadowy al Qaeda-style militant group wreaking havoc in the country. On Thursday, a horrific suicide bombing ripped the face off Syria's intelligence building, killing at least 55 people, injuring hundreds and eliciting condemnation from the U.N. It wasn't clear who was responsible for the attack, with Syria's main opposition groups blaming President Bashar al-Assad's regime and Assad blaming the opposition. But now analysts suspect the attack was carried out by the Al-Nusra Front, a group that has claimed responsibility for similar attacks in the past. According to the U.N. Security Council, which condemned the attack "in the strongest terms," a peaceful solution will never arrise as long as "the terrorist attacks" continue. Here's what we know about the group.
Origins Experts disagree about the makeup of the group but it is thought to have arisen out of Homs last year during the general uprising in Syria with the stated goal to "to avenge the people of Homs," according to Al Arabiya. Since the fighting began, the Assad regime has dubbed the opposition as "foreign-backed terrorists" and while most analysts disagree with that claim, it could be true for the Al-Nusra Front. On Friday, Western intelligence officials told the Associated Press that the group "could be a front for al-Qaida’s Iraq branch."