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Al-Qaeda Inspired Group Claims Syria Attacks

Al-Nusra, an Al-Qaeda inspired group, has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks across Syria.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 7/5/2012, 4:12 AM

Syrian President Bashar Assad
Syrian President Bashar Assad
Flash 90

An Al-Qaeda-inspired group has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks across Syria, The Associated Press reported Wednesday.

The report cited the SITE monitoring group, which tracks jihadist chatter on the Internet and which said the Al-Nusra Front released statements on extremist websites in late June claiming the attacks were to avenge the killings of Syrians by the government.

One of the attacks targeted a pro-regime television station in the town of Drousha, south of Damascus, on June 27. Seven people were killed in the attack on Al-Ikhbariya TV.

Al-Nusra said, according to SITE, that the station is an arm of the regime and the attack sought to make the station “taste from the cup of torture” and force every member of the regime to wonder: "When will my turn come?"

The statement included photos of 11 men it said were kidnapped in the attack.

Al-Ikhbariya is privately owned but often acts as a regime mouthpiece.

Other attacks in the latest claim of responsibility include dozens of armed raids and bombings, including suicide bombings, in Syrian cities.

AP noted that Western intelligence officials say Al-Nusra could be a front for a branch of Al-Qaeda militants from Iraq operating in Syria. The group has claimed responsibility for a string of attacks in Syria in the past.

The Syrian regime has long blamed terrorists for the 16-month-old revolt in the country, but the opposition and the rebel Free Syrian Army deny having any links to terrorism, and say they do not have the desire or the capabilities to carry out massive suicide bombings and other Al-Qaeda-style attacks.

Last Saturday, major world powers approved a plan for a government transition which may allow President Bashar al-Assad to remain as leader of Syria.

The U.S., Russia, and officials of other governments met in Geneva to discuss the plan authored by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Under Annan's plan, members of Assad's current administration, as well as of his family, could remain in power under a new administration. It would be up to the Syrian people if they wanted Assad himself to remain in power.

However, Annan said after the meeting, “I will doubt that the Syrians who have fought to hard for their independence will select people with blood on their hands to lead them.”

Syrian opposition leaders have dismissed the agreement as being useless. The violence stemming from Assad's brutal 16-month crackdown on a popular uprising cum civil war against his 11-year rule has resulted in at least 16,500 deaths, rights officials say.

Annan's office said Tuesday that a real ceasefire is imperative in Syria. A ceasefire brokered by Annan was supposed to have gone into effect in April, but the violence has continued.