U.S. tags Syria rebel group, militias as terrorists

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Washington, DC, United States (4E) – The U.S. has added the radical Syria rebel group Al Nusra Front and two pro-government militias into its list of terrorist organizations making it illegal for Americans to have financial dealings with them.

A notice in the Federal Register on Monday lists Al Nusra Front as one of the aliases of Al Qaeda in Iraq. On Tuesday, the U.S. Treasury announced sanctions on the leaders of the jihadist group, Maysar Ali Musa Abdallah al-Juburi and Anas Hasan Khattab. U.S. assests of Ayman Jaber and Mohammad Jaber, both commanders of the militia groups Jaysh al-Sha’bi and Shabiha, were also frozen.

The designation comes about three weeks after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the recommendation after consulting Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner.

The Al Nusra Front is composed of veteran fighters from Iraq and other countries. The group is said to be independent from the Free Syrian Army, the main rebel group in Syria, and has its own source of money and weapons not coming from Western states. It was credited for capturing a Syrian military base in Aleppo on Monday.

Last year, the Al Nusra Front took responsibility for 600 attacks on cities, including suicide bombings. Innocent civilians were among the casualties in the attacks.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Al Nusra Front is disguising itself as a legitimate Syrian opposition with the intent of imposing its ideology.

On the other hand, the U.S. Treasury held the Shabiha responsible for human rights abuses in Syria, for firing into demonstrators and for arbitrarily detaining civilians. It said the Jaysh al-Sha’bi militia killed opposition members and received support from Iran.

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