Syrian militants al-Nusra Front to be added to UN sanctions list: Diplomats

Syrian militants al-Nusra Front to be added to UN sanctions list: Diplomats

UNITED NATIONS - Agence France-Presse
Syrian militants al-Nusra Front to be added to UN sanctions list: Diplomats

The flag of the Islamist Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra flies over the main square of the city of Raqqa, east Syria May 1. The square was previously called the President Square and is now changed to Prophet Mohammed Square, according to activists. REUTERS photo

The UN Security Council will add the Al-Qaeda-linked Syrian militants al-Nusra Front to its sanctions blacklist next week, diplomats said May 10.

Following a move by France and Britain, the Islamist group, which has become one of the most feared fighting forces in Syria's two-year-old conflict, will be subject to a global asset freeze from Tuesday, the diplomats told AFP.

A pledge of allegiance by Al-Nusra's chief Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has caused divisions among the rebel groups battling President Bashar al-Assad.

The Assad government asked last month for the UN Security Council to blacklist Al-Nusra, but this was blocked by Britain and France, which do not recognize the Damascus government.

Britain and France made a separate application to the council's Al-Qaeda sanctions committee, which should become valid on May 7.

While Syria had asked for Al-Nusra to be listed as an entity in its own right, Britain and France sought its listing as an offshoot of Al-Qaeda, UN diplomats said on condition of anonymity.

The United States has already designated Al-Nusra as a terrorist organization.  Western nations are keen to see the sanctions blacklist send a signal that they are supporting Syria's moderate opposition.

Al-Nusra, which wants a hardline Islamic state in Syria, has gained notoriety for suicide bombings alongside its reputation leading attacks on battlefronts across the country.

Tensions between Al-Nusra and Islamist rebels boiled over after the capture of Raqa, the first provincial capital to fall to opposition fighters.

In Tal al-Abyad in Raqa province, members of the Islamist Farouq brigade and other opposition fighters clashed with Al-Nusra for control after the withdrawal of regime troops.

Activists and observers have long warned that if the Assad regime falls, a battle between Al-Nusra and other rebel groups could follow.