The BBC News website’s profile of Jabhat al Nusra (aka al Nusra Front) recently appeared as one of the related articles suggested to readers on its Middle East page.
Titled “Profile: Syria’s al-Nusra Front“, the article is dated April 10th 2013 and has apparently not been updated in the past eighteen months.
Included in the profile is the following paragraph: [emphasis added]
“The Front’s leading figure, Abu Mohammed al-Jawani, assured Syrians that the “good behaviour” they had experienced from al-Nusra on the ground would continue unchanged.”
Accepted spellings of the nom de guerre of the Nusra Front leader include al-Julani, al-Joulani, al-Jolani, al-Jawlani and al-Golani, with the name being a reference to the Golan Heights. Later on in the profile a side box appears in which – confusingly for readers – the name is presented differently and without the above spelling error.
The profile informs BBC audiences that:
“Al-Nusra’s connection to al-Qaeda has led the Free Syrian Army (FSA) opposition to distance itself from the movement.
“We don’t support the ideology of al-Nusra,” FSA spokesman Louay Meqdad said.
“There has never been and there will never be a decision at the command level to coordinate with al-Nusra.”
Mr Meqdad did, however, acknowledge that that [sic] there had been co-operation between FSA brigades and the Front on “certain operations”.”
Reports on recent fighting in south-western Syria, however, present a somewhat different picture than the one promoted in this BBC profile.
“The Free Syrian Army has recently allied with Islamist rebels fighting in al Harah, a town in the southern Syrian province of Deraa. Elements from the Free Syrian Army coordinated their efforts with the Islamist Syrian Revolutionaries Front, the Islamic Front, and the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, to take the al Harah Hill and the surrounding town.
The Free Syrian Army utilized several BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles during the fighting, which the United States supplied to “vetted groups” in April. […]
The Long War Journal has previously noted that Western-backed groups continue to operate with the Al Nusrah Front, Ahrar al Sham, and the wider Islamic Front coalition. Last month, the moderate Syrian Revolutionaries Front coordinated efforts with Al Nusrah and Ahrar al Sham to take several villages in Quneitra province. In August, elements from the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and the Free Syrian Army worked with Al Nusrah and Ahrar al Sham to take the Quneitra border crossing with the Israeli-held Golan Heights.”
Obviously the BBC’s profile of al Nusra Front is in need of both updating and correction.