ABC.net.au — April 12, 2013
The Syrian government has called on the United Nations to classify a leading rebel group as a terrorist organisation after its leader pledged allegiance to the head of Al Qaeda.
The call came as the opposition accused forces loyal to president Bashar al-Assad of “savage” killings in the country’s south.
Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani heads the radical Nusra Front rebel group.
In a message posted online on Wednesday he pledged allegiance to the head of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and supported calls for an Islamic state to be created in Syria.
The Syrian regime is demanding the UN “fulfil its role and preserve global security” by classing Nursa Front as an Al Qaeda linked entity.
In a letter to the UN, Syria’s foreign ministry also called for sanctions to be imposed on the group.
A sanctions regime was introduced by the UN to punish individuals and entities linked to Al Qaeda, freezing assets, banning travel and imposing an embargo on arms destined for the terror network.
The diplomatic fight comes amid continuing conflict on the ground.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is opposed to the Assad regime, says heavy fighting in the southern Deraa province has left at least 45 people dead.
“At least six children, seven women, 16 rebel fighters, 16 other unidentified men and 12 army troops were killed on Wednesday in fighting, shelling and summary executions waged after the army launched an assault on Al-Sanamein and Ghabagheb,” it said.
The main opposition National Coalition denounced the killings as “brutal and savage”, adding they were driven “by nothing but a lust for murder and a thirst for blood”.
The Local Coordination Committees – a grassroots network of activists – also condemned the assault.
It said the army shelled Al-Sanamein for seven hours before storming the town.
Meanwhile at a meeting in London, G8 foreign ministers said they were appalled at the escalating violence in Syria.
They urged greater “humanitarian” assistance for those caught up in a conflict that is now in its third year.
“They were appalled that more than 70,000 people have been killed in the conflict and that there are now more than a million Syrian refugees registered by the UNHCR in neighbouring countries, and more than 2 million internally displaced persons in Syria,” the group said in a statement after the meeting.