January 18, 2017 / 8:29 PM / 3 years ago

Former Nusra Front says it carried out Damascus bombing

A man inspects damage after an explosion in Kafr Sousa neighborhood of Damascus, Syria January 12, 2017. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The Syrian jihadist group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly the Nusra Front, claimed responsibility on Wednesday for a suicide bombing in Damascus last week that killed seven people.

The attack took place on Thursday in the Kafr Sousa district of the capital, a heavily policed area where some of Syria’s main security installations are located.

The group, known as the Nusra Front until it broke off its formal allegiance to al Qaeda in July, made its announcement in a message posted on social networking sites.

Operating as the Syrian wing of the global jihadist movement al Qaeda, the group carried out a large number of attacks in Syria early in the insurgency against President Bashar al-Assad, which began in 2011.

Last year it broke with al Qaeda and rebranded itself as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, a move that appeared to be aimed at making it easier for other rebel groups to fight alongside it without themselves coming under attack by Western countries.

Its effectiveness on the battlefield, particularly its use of suicide attacks, has led many other rebel groups, including those with a nationalist rather than Islamist ideology, to fight alongside it against the Syrian army.

Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by Kevin Liffey

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