A mysterious radical group identifying itself as the Islamic Revenge Movement (IRM) released a video message on March 20 claiming responsibility for alleged attacks on Turkish and Syrian forces.
In the message, the group’s commander vowed to carry out attacks on Turkish forces, their Syrian proxies as well as on the Syrian Arab Army (SAA).
“Previously, many were on the side of the tyrant state of Turkey, believing that they were fighting for the sake of God, however, after they found out their goals and aims, they left them and joined to support the religion of God … This year we carried out many operations against the [Syrian] regime and the Turks … Thank God, our operations were successful,” the group commander says in the message.
The group claimed that it killed 13 Turkish officers, 187 Turkish-backed militants and 24 pro-government fighters during more than 118 operations carried out last year.
من امير حركة الإنتقام الاسلامية الى الرائي العام العالمي؛
حصاد عمليات حركة الانتقام الاسلامية خلال سنة ؛ ١٨٧ قتل مرتزق من الجيش الحر
٢٤ قتل عناصر نظام النصيري
قتل ١٣ ضباط من جيش التركي
وًبشكل عام عمليات حركة الانتقام تتجاوز اكثر من ١١٨ .
ولله الحمد pic.twitter.com/FYRjri4ryh
— Harakat al-Intiqam al-ISLAMI (@harakaalIntiqam) March 20, 2020
Kurdish sources, which were among the first to share the IRM’s video message, claimed that the group was formed by defectors from al-Qaeda in Syria. These sources identified the group leader as “Abu Osama al-Shami.” No such figure is known among Jihadists in Syria.
Many, mainly opposition activists, questioned the IRM’s claims and even its existence for apaprent reasons. These are the group’s logo, which includes cross-shaped swords, the commander’s poor Arabic speaking and the absence of any known Jihadi figure.
Many activists believe the IRM is nothing, but a front of Kurdish forces in north and northeast Syria, especially the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). This version says that that the IRM was made up to claim responsibility for attacks carried out by the PKK.
While the origins of the IRM remain unclear, the group may be indeed a propaganda stunt by some side. The IRM is yet to provide any credible evidence confirming of attaacks on Turkish forces or that it is indeed a radical Islamic group.