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Nusra Front Chief is Focused on Syria, Not Western Attacks

FILE - Members of al-Qaida's Nusra Front man a checkpoint in Idlib.
FILE - Members of al-Qaida's Nusra Front man a checkpoint in Idlib.

The leader of al-Qaida's Syria branch says the group is focused on defeating President Bashar al-Assad and not on launching attacks against Western countries.

In an interview Wednesday with Al Jazeera, Nusra Front chief Abu Muhammed al-Golani said it will not be long before Assad's government falls. He also criticized the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which has sent fighters to bolster Syrian forces, saying the militants "knew their fate" when they joined with Assad.

He further warned Syria's Alawites, the president's minority sect, that they must give up their religion and renounce Assad in order to ensure their safety.

Al-Golani also denied the existence of the Khorasan group, saying the alleged special cell within the Nusra Front is only a name made up by the United States.

The U.S. Defense Department said the Khorasan group is plotting attacks against the West and that some of the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes in Syria have targeted its members.

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