The head of Syria’s Al-Qaeda affiliate has issued bounties worth millions of dollars for the killing of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the head of powerful Shiite militant group Hezbollah.
In a voice recording released late Monday, head of Al-Nusra Front Abu Mohamed al-Golani said he would pay “three million euros ($3.4 million) for anyone who can kill Bashar al-Assad and end his story”.
“How long must Muslims delay their rights and shed their blood for a man who loves his power?” he asked.
The militant chief said he would pay out the sum even if a member of Assad’s own family killed the head of state, and said Al-Nusra would protect the killer and his family.
Golani also offered “an amount of two million euros ($2.2 million) for whoever kills (Hezbollah head) Hassan Nasrallah, even if it is a member of his own family or sect.”
Hezbollah has intervened militarily in Syria’s brutal conflict on behalf of Assad, dispatching thousands of fighters to various fronts across the country.
Calls to targeting Alawite sect
In the same audio message, al-Golani urged insurgents to escalate attacks on the strongholds of President Bashar al Assad’s minority Alawite sect, in retaliation for what he said was the indiscriminate killing of Muslim Sunnis by invading Russians.
He said Russia’s military intervention since last week was aimed at saving Assad’s rule from collapse but was doomed to fail, as had previous Iranian and Hezbollah military support.
“There is no choice but to escalate the battle and to target Alawite towns and villages in Latakia and I call on all factions to … daily hit their villages with hundreds of missiles as they do to Sunni cities and villages,” Golani said.
Golani describing the Russian intervention as a new Christian crusade from the east that was doomed to fail and came after a “string of victories made by the Mujahdeen” threatened Assad’s rule.
“The war in Cham (Syria) will make the Russians forget the horrors of what they faced in Afghanistan. The new Russian invasion is the last dart in the weaponry of the enemies of Muslims and the enemies of Syria,” he said.
Russia has dramatically intensified its bombing campaign in recent days. Moscow says it is targeting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militant group, but most of its strikes have hit other rebel factions fighting against Assad, some of which have the support of Arab powers, Turkey or the United States.
Rebels also say Russia’s “scorched earth” policy was killing dozens of civilians.