Results tagged “Syria”
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In what was said to be his first-ever media interview, Abu Mohammed al Julani, the leader of the Al Nusrah Front, claimed that his fighters have now won 70 percent of the battle, and that the conflict will soon be over. Julani said the group was fighting to establish an Islamic state under sharia in Syria. He also said that Al Nusrah "rebuke[s] those who go to extremes in declaring takfir of people," distancing the group from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham, and claimed that the Syrian National Coalition has "no presence on the ground." Syria's deputy foreign minister said no one should dictate whether Assad can run for re-election; Russia's deputy foreign minister cautioned that all sides should avoid fanning tensions before the Geneva II talks.
US Ambassador Robert Ford said the Islamic Front flatly turned down the US' request for talks; Ford added that the US is "ready to sit with them because we talk to all parties and political groups in Syria." The Assad regime called the US offer "reprehensible" as the Islamic Front "agrees in principle, strategy, and goals with" the Al Nusrah Front, a US-designated terrorist group. Saudi Arabia signaled that it will 'go it alone' in Syria given the West's reluctance to arm the rebels. Five rebel fighters in Idlib were killed on Dec. 16 by the premature detonation of a car bomb they were assembling. The Moroccan jihadist group Sham al-Islam released a video showing its fighters participating in a raid on Aleppo Central Prison. The UN condemned recent attacks on UN peacekeepers in the Golan Heights by Syrians, blaming both opposition fighters and regime troops.
A Syrian National Coalition source said Western nations are now signaling that they may prefer the Assad regime to remain for a transitional period in order to avoid possible chaos and an Islamist takeover. The Islamic Front denied reports it was meeting with the US ambassador; an Islamic Front official claimed that the group will not fight against al Qaeda. The Al Nusrah Front and rebels are besieging the Aleppo Central Prison area. Gunmen assassinated a leader of the al Tawhid brigade near Anadan in Aleppo. The OPCW said it was possible that the Dec. 31 deadline for moving all of Syria's chemical weapons out of the country may not be met, due to poor security. A study by a British research group reported that up to 11,000 fighters from over 70 nations have traveled to Syria since late 2011 to battle the Assad regime, and that of the 20 percent whose affiliation is known, most have joined the Al Nusrah Front or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham.