News / Middle East

US Labels Syrian Jihadist Group as Terrorists

U.S. Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen talks to the media during a press conference in Rome, October 3, 2012.U.S. Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen talks to the media during a press conference in Rome, October 3, 2012.
U.S. Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen talks to the media during a press conference in Rome, October 3, 2012.
U.S. Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen talks to the media during a press conference in Rome, October 3, 2012.
VOA News
The United States has declared a Syrian Jihadist force as a terrorist organization, while Western powers gathered in Morocco to push international support for Syria's new opposition coalition.

The State Department designated Jabhat al-Nusra as a terror group on Tuesday, saying that it serves as an alias of al-Qaida in Iraq as it attempts to infiltrate the Syrian conflict.

The U.S. State Department says Jabhat al-Nusra:

  • Claimed more than 600 attacks since November 2011
  • Carried out operations in major Syrian city centers
  • Killed numerous innocent Syrians
  • Sought to portray itself as part of the Syrian opposition
  • Is controlled by al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Du'a
The U.S. Treasury sanctioned two senior leaders of the al-Nusra front for acting on behalf of al-Qaida in Iraq. The department also announced sanctions against two armed militia groups that back Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, David Cohen, said the United States "will target the pro-Assad militias" just as it targets "the terrorists who falsely cloak themselves in the flag of the legitimate opposition."  

Listing an entity as a terror organization bars Americans from doing business with the group.

Jabhat al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for suicide bombings in Syria.

Friends of Syria meeting

Officials from European Union nations and the United States will gather Wednesday in Morocco for a Friends of Syria meeting aimed at supporting the rebels opposed to President Bashar al-Assad.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not taking part in the meeting, after canceling her Middle East trip because of an illness.

France, Britain and members of the Gulf Cooperation Council have recognized the opposition coalition as the representative of the Syrian people.  Despite broad support for the ouster of Assad, the United States and some European nations have been hesitant to fully recognize the coalition.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed hope Monday that more nations will back the coalition, after EU foreign ministers held talks with new Syrian opposition leader Mouaz al-Khatib.

Russia is not taking part in the talks Wednesday.  Moscow objects to any outside interference in a Syrian transition process, saying any decisions about political reforms should be made by Syrians themselves.

Chemical weapons

Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says there is no new indication of any "aggressive steps" by the Syrian government to use chemical weapons.

"We continue to monitor it very closely, and we continue to make clear to them that they should not under any means make use of these chemical weapons against their own population, that that would produce serious consequences," Panetta said.

Panetta's comments Tuesday follow earlier warnings from U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western leaders that a chemical weapons attack would draw a response against Syria.


Also Tuesday, the United Nations refugee agency said the number of Syrian refugees registered or waiting to be registered now stands at more than 500,000.  The agency said that includes the latest count from Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, turkey and North Africa.

Fighting between rebels and government forces has already claimed more than 40,000 lives, with no let-up in sight.

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Comment Sorting
by: M from: USA
December 11, 2012 1:08 PM
So is it ok to use the word "terrorist" again? Lol...

by: Anonymous
December 11, 2012 12:14 PM
You know I don't like terrorists just like anyone else. BUT I am glad as hell some people are helping the Syrian people whatever groups they belong to. The Syrians are being slaughtered by Assad, the Syrians need as much help as they can get from anyone they can get it from. Assad needs to go, better yet face justice. On the battleground these groups are providing much more than anyone else is, in regards to military power.

by: Anonymous
December 11, 2012 9:23 AM
The rest of the "rebels" are in support of the AlNursa terrorists. But the US supports them. LOL Blindness, madam Clinton, No?
In Response

by: SJJolly from: La Mesa, California
December 11, 2012 12:02 PM
Maybe the Syrian rebels prefer to support those most effective again Assad's forces than to worry about what we in the USA think about those leading groups?

by: musawi melake from: -
December 11, 2012 5:26 AM
It's a good decission, though too late to have any impact. It should also mean that the other Groups that collaborate With this outfit should be forced to stay away from thm or punish by designating them aslo. In this case, if the Assad-regime falls at some point in time, there'd none for the US to deal With.

On the Whole the West is going to see the opposite of what they hoped to get whn the orchstrated the so called Arab-spring using facebook People, in countries With significant Chinese Investments.

by: Walter Johnson
December 11, 2012 5:26 AM
Russia is at least partially right, but it is not taking into account that the new coalition is of Syrian groups and the only role the West will play is to try to stabilize a peace in Syria--not to determine the nation's ultimate government structure or constitution even though that was very successful in Japan in particular.

Russia may be concerned that all the arms and other purchases made by the Assad government will wind up not being paid for by Syria's eventual government since those arms and munitions were used against Syria's own people.
In Response

by: Anonymous
December 11, 2012 12:19 PM
And because most of the Syrians that died, died from Russian weaponry and because of Russias choice to sip tea during the slaughter... The Russian Navy should be permanently kicked out of Syria after the fall. No pipeline, no navy. Hey Putin, suck it up buttercup...

by: david lulasa from: tambua,hamisi,vihiga,keny
December 11, 2012 5:12 AM
wrongs should not just be looked into after the war is over..america has to do away with bad gangs even if they are helping remove a bad assad.


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