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Syria’s Bashar Assad says U.S. will rue backing of al Qaeda rebels

- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 18, 2013

The United States is making a monumental mistake in supporting Syrian rebel forces because they're aligned with al Qaeda and they sooner or later will strike at Europe and at America's heartland, Syrian President Bashar Assad said Wednesday.

"Just as the West financed al Qaeda in Afghanistan in its beginnings, and later paid a heavy price, today it is supporting it in Syria, Libya and other places and will pay the price later in the heart of Europe and the United States," he said, as The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Assad didn't provide proof that the aid the United States was giving rebel forces was being siphoned for al Qaeda's use, AP said.

But it's true that groups linked to al Qaeda are gaining ground in the fight to oust Mr. Assad, AP reported. Jabhat al-Nusra, also called the Nusra Front, is an extremist group with ties to al Qaeda that's proving an effective foe to Mr. Assad. Washington military officials and politicos label the group as terrorist organization because of this al Qaeda connection, AP reported.

The U.S. has vowed $60 million in aid for rebel fighters. But that money is supposed to be used for nonlethal purposes only — medical supplies, food and the like, and not for weapons.

Mr. Assad made his claims about U.S. financing of al Qaeda groups during an interview with a government-run television station in Syria. Excerpts were posted in advance on his government Facebook page, AP reported.

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