Al-Qaeda fighters evoke Afghan jihad as they promise to turn Syria into graveyard for Russian invaders

Russia’s decision to wade into Syria’s messy war risks pushing more militants into the arms of the country’s powerful al-Qaeda group, according to rebels.

Jabhat al-Nusra, a Syrian al-Qaeda group that has survived through integration with the wider movement which took up arms against leader Bashar al-Assad in 2011, is now one of the most powerful players in Syria’s messy war.

Depicting Moscow’s military support for Mr Assad as tantamount to an invasion, Nusra and other rebel groups say they want to evoke the prolonged and unsuccessful Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, a battle in which the modern day al-Qaeda has its roots.

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