Turkey places Syria jihadists on terror list

2014-06-03 14:00
 (File, AFP)

(File, AFP)

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Ankara - Turkey added al-Qaeda's franchise in neighbouring Syria to a list of terrorist organisations on Tuesday, in a sign of the country's growing concern over the rise of radicals across the border.

Although other jihadist groups fighting in Syria's civil war claim to be inspired by al-Qaeda, the al-Nusra Front is the only one to be officially sanctioned by the group's leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Rights groups have accused the Al-Nusra Front of committing war crimes against civilians in Syria, including executions and hostage taking.

Turkey, which backs the uprising against President Bashar Assad, has repeatedly denied claims that it is providing shelter or backing al-Qaeda linked groups in Syria.

The decision to add al-Nusra Front on the "list of Al-Qaeda linked organisations" was published in Turkey's Official Gazette.

Ankara has long championed robust support for Syria's fragmented opposition but the growing influence of al-Qaeda affiliated groups in the war-torn country left it open to accusations that it is backing radical Islamists.

Last year, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu dismissed concerns over Al-Nusra, insisting that Ankara was supporting only the opposition Syrian National Coalition and the Supreme Military Council - neither of which include al-Nusra members.

The al-Nusra Front is thought to be made up of predominantly Syrian citizens, and enjoys some level of support among more moderate rebel groups.

Despite sharing an ideology, the al-Nusra Front is considered to be a less radical force than Syria's other main al-Qaeda-inspired group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

Al-Qaeda is a hard-line Sunni organisation that considers Shi’ite Muslims, including the many volunteers from neighbouring Iraq and Lebanon fighting alongside Assad's forces, to be heretics.

The group has carried out attacks on Turkish soil before. In 2003, four suicide car-bomb attacks on two Istanbul synagogues, the British consulate and British bank HSBC killed 63 people, including Britain's consul general. They were claimed by an al-Qaeda cell.
Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  al-nusra  |  is  |  isil  |  bashar assad  |  turkey  |  syria  |  syria conflict
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