US designates Syrian rebel Nusra Front 'terrorist group' at 'lighting speed': Report

Last Updated: Tue, Dec 11, 2012 07:32 hrs

The US State Department has designated the Jabhat al-Nusra militia fighting Bashar al-Assad's government in Syria a foreign terrorist organization.

The State Department said Jabhat al-Nusra, or the "Nusra Front", is essentially a wing of Al Qaeda in Iraq.

It called group a jihadi organization that flourished in Anbar Province after the US invaded to topple the Baathist regime of secular dictator Saddam Hussein, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

According to the report, the speed with which the US government moved to designate a fairly new group that is engaged in fighting a regime that successive administrations have demonized is evidence of the strange bedfellows and overlapping agendas that make the Syrian civil war so explosive.

While the US has been trying to find a government or leadership in waiting among Syrian exiles, Nusra has been going from strength to strength, the report said.

Aaron Zelin, who tracks jihadi groups at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, notes in a recent piece for Foreign Policy that 20 out of the 48 "martyrdom" notices posted on Al Qaeda forums for the Syria war were made by people claiming to be members of Nusra, it added.

According to the report, Zelin writes that it's highly unusual for the US to designate as a terrorist group anyone who hasn't attempted an attack on the US.

In fact, the US only designated the Haqqani Network in Afghanistan, which had been involved in attacks on US troops there for over a decade, this September, he added. (ANI)

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