French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has proposed classing Syria's powerful jihadist group Al-Nusra Front a terrorist organization, while boosting support for the moderate opposition.
“We are going to increase our support to the moderate opposition, the National Syrian Coalition,” Fabius said in Friday's edition of Le Monde newspaper.
“To avoid ambiguity we propose classing the Al-Nusra Front – opposed to [President] Bashar al-Assad but a branch of Al-Qaeda – as a terrorist organization as defined by the United Nations,” he said.
“We have begun a procedure with Britain to submit a classification request to the U.N. sanctions committee,” a diplomatic source told AFP.
Washington already deems Al-Nusra a terrorist organization.
Al-Nusra Front, which seeks to establish an Islamic state in Syria, is among the most prominent organizations involved in the conflict which has left more than 70,000 dead since March 2011, according to the United Nations.
Leader Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani last month pledged allegiance to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, confirming suspicions of ties between the Syrian rebel group and the extremist organization.
It has gained notoriety for suicide bombings but also won admiration from other insurgents for its reputation as a formidable fighting force leading attacks on battlefronts across the country.
Fabius urged Syria's main opposition to “widen, unite and clearly guarantee to each community the respect of its rights in case of regime change.”