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MIDEAST > Turkey: Al-Qaeda in Syria is terrorist

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In response to long-held claims that Turkey supports the Nusra front in Syria, which is linked to the al-Qaeda, the Turkish government made it clear Feb. 6 that it considers the al-Qaeda group in Syria to be a terrorist organization.

“We also consider the al-Qaeda elements in Syria as terrorists. It is not possible for us to consider them as freedom fighters and to give them support as a state,” Finance Minister Mehmet Şimşek told reporters in response to questions on the issue.

“Consequently, the withdrawal of support following the approval of this bill is out of question,” Şimşek said, speaking while Parliament was in the middle of debating a bill looking to prevent the financing of terrorism.

Turkey is a keen advocate of the Syrian opposition. The mostly Sunni Muslim rebels loosely grouped in tribal and local “brigades range from secular-minded fighters to al Qaeda-aligned Islamists.

Washington recently blacklisted Jabhat al-Nusra, the Nusra Front, calling it a terrorist organization even though inside Syria it has attracted a lot of respect for its victories and for a comparative lack of corruption compared to many rebel groups.

February/06/2013

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