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US may label Syrian opposition faction, al-Nusra, a terrorist organization

The goal of the designation may be to isolate the extremist elements in the Syrian opposition before any political transition takes place.

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The US government is said to be considering labelling the Syrian opposition faction, al-Nusra, a terrorist organization. (Wikimedia/Wikimedia commons)

The US government will likely label the Syrian opposition faction Jabhat al-Nusra a terrorist organization.

The goal of the designation may be to isolate the more extremist elements in the Syrian opposition before any political transition takes place.

It would also delegitimize the group, which has recently said it will oppose the leadership of the National Coalition of Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, formed in Doha last month.

Jabhat al-Nusra (or the al-Nusra Front) was created in 2011 and has been linked to several suicide bombings and executions of Syrian soldiers. It is believed that they make up about nine percent of the Syrian opposition, or 6,000 to 10,000 fighters.

"We want to put the opposition on notice that these guys are becoming more of an issue and they need to do something about them," a US official told CNN.

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Declaring the group to be a terrorist organization would freeze any assets the group may have and would bar the US from giving the group material support.

The Associated Press said that the move would be largely symbolic, however, as the group does not currently receive arms from the US, nor does it have any holdings.

It is believed that al-Nusra has not made any alliance publicly with Al Qaeda, in order to avoid being painted as a terrorist organization. However, there are reports that the group does have connections with Al Qaeda in Iraq and that it plans to step up suicide bombings.

CNN reported that labeling the group could have battlefield consequences; the al-Nusra Front has been an important player to date in rebel successes against the Syrian regime. Said to be one of the most deadly forces fighting within the Syrian opposition, al-Nusra has been successful at helping overrun military bases and take control over strategic roads.

The US is expected to make the declaration next week.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/121206/us-may-label-syrian-opposition-faction-al-nusra-terro