Newly-recognized Syrian opposition calls for rethink on al-Nusra


Members of the Free Syrian Army patrol an area in Idlib in northwestern Syria on February 18, 2012. A senior Chinese envoy called for all sides in Syria to stop the violence and for elections to go ahead peacefully after Damascus talks with President Bashar al-Assad. On Feb. 24, the Friends of Syria, a group of Arab states and western countries will meet in Tunisia to discuss possible solutions to Syria violence.


Bulent Kilic

Syria's newly-formed opposition coalition went head to head with the United States over its recent blacklisting of the Al-Nusra rebel group during a US-led "Friends of Syria" meeting legitimizing the young coalition today, according to Reuters

More from GlobalPost: Syrian opposition group says US blacklisted al-Nusra for political reasons: Report

Mouaz Alkhatib, the head of the National Coalition for Opposition Forces and the Syrian Revolution, told world leaders gathered in Morocco today the US "decision to consider a party that is fighting the regime as a terrorist party needs to be reviewed." 

"We might disagree with some parties and their ideas and their political and ideological vision," Reuters cited him as saying. "But we affirm that all the guns of the rebels are aimed at overthrowing the tyrannical criminal regime."

The comments are not likely to persuade the United States to retract its decision after labeling the group a terrorist organization earlier this week and imposing sanctions on some of its leaders. The US considers the group is a proxy for Al Qaeda in Iraq and is concerned it is adding to instability in Syria, where a bloody 20-moth rebellion has taken tens of thousands of lives. 

Alkhatib's comments come a day after a major European-based Syrian opposition group said the US had political reasons for blacklisting the group, with a Syrian Observatory for Human Rights member telling CNN America "decided to single out the Nusra Front because of their recent rejection to the political opposition front and [because] they have a different approach to post-Assad's Syria."

The Syrian Muslim brotherhood has also spoken out against the move, reported Reuters

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama today announced that America was throwing its weight behind the new National Coalition, joining 100 nations now backing the group, according to the Associated Press

Also at the meeting today, Khatib called on Syria's Alawite minority to rise up against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, himself a member of a Shiite offshoot, and join the mainly Sunni rebellion against a family that has controlled the country for over four decades. 

Qatar's prime minister also hit out at Assad after the Morocco meeting, saying, "What happened is enough, you should take the brave decision to stop this bloodshed, this destruction and withdraw and allow the Syrian people to form a government and state that they believe is appropriate," according to Reuters

"Friends of Syria" members also created a $100 million fund providing humanitarian assistance for war-ravaged Syrians at the meeting today, said AP