Syria opposition urges US to review Al-Nusra blacklist
MARRAKESH, Morocco - The opposition National Coalition, newly recognised by Washington as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people, on Wednesday urged the US to review its blacklisting of the jihadist Al-Nusra Front.
"The decision to blacklist one of the groups fighting the regime as a terrorist organisation must be re-examined," the bloc's leader, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, said at a meeting in Morocco of the Friends of Syria group that includes the United States.
"We can have ideological and political differences with certain parties, but the revolutionaries all share the same goal: to overthrow the criminal regime" of President Bashar al-Assad.
On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama recognised the National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the nation's people. It also blacklisted as a terrorist group the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front, which US officials fear seeks to hijack the revolution.
Khatib's comments came after strong criticism of the US move by a key mainstream rebel commander on the ground and by the influential Muslim Brotherhood, which is an important component of the opposition coalition.
Meanwhile, Friends of Syria are to recognise the newly-formed opposition coalition as "the legitimate representative" of the Syrian people, a statement obtained by AFP showed.
"The participants acknowledged the National Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people and the umbrella organisation under which Syrian opposition groups are gathering," said the statement to be approved by a meeting of the Friends of Syria group in Morocco on Wednesday.
The meeting in the southern city of Marrakesh has brought together representatives of more than 100 countries for talks on the 21-month conflict rocking Syria.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague described the growing recognition of the National Coalition as "real progress."
"Then the important thing is to channel more assistance through them -- in our case ... non-lethal assistance... and then of course we need more humanitarian aid," Hague told reporters before the start of the meeting.
Under pressure to unite, the Syrian opposition agreed in Doha on November 11 to establish the National Coalition and group the various rebel forces under a supreme military council.
But jihadist rebels in Aleppo, a key front line in northern Syria, rejected the coalition, saying they want an Islamic state.