US declares Syria jihadists 'terrorists'

2012-12-11 10:05

Washington - The United States will declare the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist group battling to overthrow Syria's President Bashar Assad, a "foreign terrorist organisation", documents showed on Tuesday.

The State Department has not formally announced the move to blacklist the group, but posted the declaration in the Federal Register, in a document that described the al-Nusra Front as an alias of al-Qaeda in Iraq.

The al-Nusra Front is one of the most effective of several armed groups fighting to overthrow the Syrian regime, raising concerns in the West that hardline Islamists are hijacking the 21-month-old revolt.

The group has claimed responsibility for recent suicide bombings that killed scores of people, and has said it hopes to replace the Assad family's four-decade-old dictatorship with a strict Islamic state.

The State Department linked the group to al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has carried out scores of massive bombings targeting Shi'ite civilians and regularly targeted US forces before their withdrawal a year ago.

"We've had concerns that al-Nusra is little more than a front for al-Qaeda in Iraq, [which] has moved some of its operations into Syria," State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said earlier on Monday.

Jihadists seize army base

She said the State Department would "have more to say about this" in the coming days.

Declaring the al-Nusra Front a terrorist group would entail freezing its assets and banning Americans from any transactions with the group, which could complicate efforts to provide aid to Syria's fragmented rebellion.

Earlier on Monday, jihadists led by the al-Nusra Front seized a strategic army base in the northern Syrian province of Aleppo.

An AFP correspondent reporting from the scene said many of the fighters hailed from other Arab countries and Central Asia.

The move to declare the al-Nusra Front a terror group comes ahead of the so-called Friends of Syria meeting set to take place in Morocco on Wednesday.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had planned to attend the meeting but cancelled her trip on Monday due to illness. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns was to attend in her place.

42 000 killed

Arab and Western states backing the revolt were to discuss the political transition in the event of Assad's fall, and mobilising vital humanitarian aid as winter sets in.

Since the last meeting, in Paris in July, the number of people killed has risen from 16 000 to more than 42 000, according to the Observatory.

The United States has repeatedly called on Assad to step aside but says it has not provided arms to the rebels for fear they could end up in the hands of radical groups.

  • fidel.mgoqi - 2012-12-11 10:17

    Talk about throwing a spanner.....

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-12-11 11:39

    . The Syrian people don't need any terrorist group to help them, For the first 11 months they were unarmed, and than were merely defending themselves and their loved ones. Only in the last few month, are they fighting back these assad terrorists. The good news is , that China is less and less interested propping up this assad , and Russia will see in time, it is not worth the price, to keep that scumbag, and pull the rug from under his feet!! What a waste of 42 000 lives, to keep ONE THUG in power !!!!

      derek.bredenkamp.3 - 2012-12-11 12:13

      If you honestly believe that these are innocent Syrian civilians fighting for their freedom how do you explain AFP correpondent saying "many fighters hailed from other Arab countries and Central Asia?" This is a foriegn sponsored proxy war. It has nothing to do with freedom.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-12-11 12:40

      . What the loonies of the violent left, don't want to admit, is the fact that these Syrian uprisings are not something that started 20 months ago. It started FIFTY YEARS ago !!!! Besides the massacre of Hama, where daddy assad slaughtered 20 000 of his opposition , HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of syrians were arrested, beaten up, raped, imprisoned, and TENS OF THOUSANDS murdered by these assad scumbags. So to suggest there is no strong opposition to these assad rot, is utter BS. That there are armed gangs, terrorist groups, pimps, hijackers and all kind of scum , that has joined this uprising, ON BOTH SIDES, is no secret!!!! THE ONLY REASON A DICTATOR HOLDS NO ELECTION======HE WILL LOOSE !!! There is no doubt that by far the majority of Syrians want this assad dog out !!! And THAT is what this uprising is about, the rest is a side show, and a smoke screen!!!!

      derek.bredenkamp.3 - 2012-12-11 12:54

      ..none so blind as those who will not see..

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-12-11 20:04

      . ....none so ignorant as those who pretend to be blind....

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-12-12 05:12

      Patrick, A typical mind of an AWB member; Support a MINORITY regime, and everybody else is a terrorist. No doubt, even the Russian bastards will change their mind before you will, actually, it is doubtful, it will ever happen, as those silly and childish anti Western blinkers, have blinded you !!!!

  • Shane Loxton - 2012-12-11 12:26

    Well there u have it!!! looks like the right have egg on their face and are in fack the Loony's

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-12-11 18:25

    . These lunatics of the violent left, cling onto any straw , to justify their support for a MASS MURDERER !!!!!

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