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France

Fabius seeks to label Al-Nusra as terrorist group

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Tripoli at the end of April
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in Tripoli at the end of April Reuters

On Thursday, France’s Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius suggested getting Syria’s jihadist group Al-Nusra Front classed as a terrorist organisation. At the same time, he offered France’s support to the more moderate opposition, the Syrian National Coalition.

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"To avoid ambiguity, we propose classing the Al-Nusra Front – opposed to [President] Bashar al-Assad but a branch of Al-Qaeda – as a terrorist organisation, as defined by the United Nations," he said during an interview with Le Monde newspaper.

Fabius added that he had the full support of Britain on the subject, and that the two had begun the procedure to submit a classification request at the UN sanctions committee.

This is the first time France has made such direct statements about classing Al-Nusra Front, who is pushing for an Islamic state in Syria and rejects the Syrian Liberal Army, the principal opposition to President al-Assad.

France and Britain are hoping to differentiate themselves from Damascus, who in April asked the National Security Council to place Al-Nusra Front on a list of organisations with links to Al-Qaeda.

Suspicions about the group’s ties to extremists were confirmed last month when the group’s leader, Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani, pledged his allegiance to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri.

The US has already recognised Al-Nusra Front has a terrorist organisation. The group has claimed responsibility for numerous suicide bombings and guerrilla attacks across Syria.

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