The US State Department on Tuesday formally designated one of the leading militias fighting for the overthrow of the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization.”
The group, known as Jabhat al-Nusra, or the al-Nusra front, is widely credited as being the most effective fighting force in the bloody struggle in Syria. It has recently overrun at least three Syrian military bases and seized control of territory in the eastern part of the country.
In a teleconference with select members of the media Tuesday, an unnamed senior State Department official justified the designation by charging al-Nusra with “hundreds of attacks, nearly 600, in major city centers across Syria in which numerous innocent Syrians have been injured and killed.”
Earlier, US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement: “Al-Nusra has sought to portray itself as part of the legitimate Syrian opposition while it is, in fact, an attempt by AQI (Al Qaeda in Iraq) to hijack the struggles of the Syrian people for its own malign purposes.”