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Friday, 24 March 2017

Chief Syria negotiator accuses "rebel" supporters of state-sponsored terror

The Damascus government delegation at the United Nations-backed Syria peace talks on Friday said any country that backed rebel forces fighting in the war were sponsoring terrorism by inadvertently supporting a hard-line al-Qaida offshoot.


Bashar Jafari told the press at the Intra-Syria negotiations in Geneva that several rebel groups had merged with al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaida breakaway faction that recently launched assaults near Damascus and in the central Hama province.

"The Nusra Front is considered by the Security Council as a terrorist group. Therefore all those who deal with it is to be considered also a terrorist," said Jafari.

"Any government that deals with the Nusra Front and any groups associated with it would be considered a sponsor of terrorism," he continued, implicating Turkish, Saudi, Qatari, French, British, Israeli and Jordanian governments in his accusation.

The Nusra Front was currently flying the banner of Tahrir al-Sham, having merged with several smaller Islamist groups, but is often refered to as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham by officials.

Turkey was a prominent backer of the Free Syrian Army in the north of Syria, one of the original rebel groups to spring up in the war that was also considered a terror group by President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Jafari was speaking after a meeting with UN envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura on the occasion of the fifth round of UN-backed peace negotiations aimed at finding a political solution to the conflict in the Middle Eastern nation.

Damascus' chief negotiator warned, however, that the recent flare up of violence led by the Nusra Front and its allies acted to torpedo the Geneva and Astana peace negotiations, the latter conducted under the auspices of Russia, Iran and Turkey.

Jafari said any international intervention against Raqqa_ a city held by the Islamic State terror organization_ without the coordination of the Damascus government would be illegitimate.

The United States was currently bolstering a Kurdish coalition militia on the ground with air support in that northern region of Syria.

Turkey has previously hinted its military intervention could head in that direction, too.

Jafari said the only governments that were successfully combating the IS were Russia, Iran and Syria.
  [EFE/EPA]
24/3/17

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