US declares core of Syrian resistance an AQ affiliate

The Christian Science Monitor: The speed with which the US government moved to designate a fairly new group that has never attacked US interests and is engaged in fighting a regime that successive administrations have demonized is evidence of the strange bedfellows and overlapping agendas that make the Syrian civil war so explosive.

The State Department says Jabhat al-Nusra (or the “Nusra Front”) is essentially a wing of Al Qaeda in Iraq, the jihadi group that flourished in Anbar Province after the US invaded to topple theBaathist regime of secular dictator Saddam Hussein. During the Iraqwar, Sunni Arab tribesmen living along the Euphrates in eastern Syria flocked to fight with the friends and relatives in the towns along the Euphrates river in Anbar Province. …

The Nusra Front has gone from victory to victory in eastern Syria and has shown signs of both significant funding and greater military prowess than the average citizens’ militia, with veterans of fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya among its numbers.

The US of course aided the fight in Libya to bring down Muammar Qaddafi. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the chance to fight and kill Americans was the major drawing card. Their presence might tempt Barack Obama to send in US forces to keep chemical weapons out of the Nusra Front’s hands:

The Obama administration appears eager for Assad to fall, but is also afraid of what might replace him, not least because of Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile. If the regime collapses, the aftermath is sure to be chaotic, much as it was in Libya, where arms stores were looted throughout the country. The presence of VX and sarin nerve gas, and the fear of Al Qaeda aligned militants getting their hands on it, has the US considering sending in troops to secure the weapons.

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