An image released on July 28, 2016 by Al-Manara al-Bayda, the official news arm of Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate, allegedly shows the group's chief Abu Mohammad al-Jolani at an undisclosed location, in the first ever picture to be released of him.
The Al-Nusra Front - which is expected to announce its break from Al-Qaeda - is a jihadist group allied with rebels fighting Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Al-Nusra, an offshoot of the Islamic State in Iraq, Al-Qaeda's former Iraqi affiliate, first emerged in January 2012 -- 10 months after the start of anti-government protests that were brutally repressed by the Assad regime, leading to a multi-sided conflict which continues today. The Arabic writing reads: "Soon, a televised speech by Sheikh Abu Mohammad al-Jolani.” / AFP PHOTO / Al-Manara Al-Baydaa / Handout

Gareth Porter – The sham rebrand of al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front

The Nusra Front’s adoption of the new name Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and claim that it has separated itself from al-Qaeda was designed to influence US policy, not to make the group any more independent of al-Qaeda. The objective of the manoeuvre was to head off US-Russian military cooperation against the jihadist group, renamed last week, based at least in part on the …