US recognises Syria rebels
- Published: 12 Dec 2012 at 08.24
- Online news:
WASHINGTON : President Barack Obama proclaimed Syria's newly reframed opposition as the "legitimate" representative of the nation's people Tuesday, in the most significant US intervention in a brutal civil war.
As Washington cranked up pressure on beleaguered President Bashar al-Assad, the Obama administration also blacklisted the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front, which officials here fear seeks to hijack the revolution, as a terrorist group.It was another day of carnage inside Syria, meanwhile, as scores of civilians from Assad's minority sect were reported killed, in what appeared to be the largest scale revenge attacks yet against Alawites.The United States has edged slowly towards recognizing the opposition Syrian National Council, and its move follows those of France, Britain, Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council regional grouping.The process was slowed by concerns that the group, recently reconstituted under US pressure, did not genuinely represent all sectors of Syrian society, had links to extremists, and did not fully subscribe to democratic principles."We have made a decision that the Syrian opposition coalition is now inclusive enough, is reflective and representative enough of the Syrian population, that we consider them the legitimate representative of the Syrian people," Obama told ABC News in an interview.Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had been expected to make the announcement at a Friends of the Syrian People meeting in Marrakesh, Morocco, Wednesday but could not travel owing to illness.Washington has so far only provided humanitarian, non-lethal aid to the rebels, officially declining to send arms, a position White House spokesman Carney reiterated on Tuesday.The US administration made clear that it was differentiating between the Council and another group, Al-Nusra, which it sees as having extreme tendencies."There is a small element of those that oppose the Assad regime, that in fact are affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Iraq and we have designated them, Al-Nusra, as a terrorist organization," Obama said in the interview.Though a minority, Al-Nusra has been one of the most effective rebel groups fighting to overthrow Assad, raising concerns that hardline extremists are hijacking the 21-month-old revolt.The front's fighters, many of them jihadist volunteers from around the Islamic world, were instrumental in the fall of the army's massive Sheikh Suleiman base in northern Syria on Monday after a months-long siege.The group has claimed responsibility for recent suicide bombings that killed scores of people, and has said it hopes to replace...
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