US declares Jabhat al-Nusra, a group in Syria with alleged al-Qaida links, as terrorist body

Associated Press
This image made from amateur video released by Ugarit News, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows a Syrian rebel firing his weapon in Damascus, Syria, Friday, June 21, 2013. The commander of Syria's rebels confirms they have received new weapons, giving his forces more power in battles against government troops and Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon. Gen. Salim Idris refused to say in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV Friday where the weapons came from. (AP Photo/Ugarit News via AP video)
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WASHINGTON - The Obama administration is declaring a Syrian rebel group with alleged ties to al-Qaida as a terrorist organization. It's an effort to blunt the influence of extremists as the U.S. steps up co-operation with the Syrian opposition.

The State Department's action blocks Jabhat al-Nusra's assets in the U.S. and bars Americans from doing business with the group.

The move hasn't been announced officially but was included in the Federal Register on Monday. The department said the group was part of al-Qaida in Iraq.

Jabhat al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for suicide bombings on Syrian government targets, raising fears of growing Islamic extremism among the opposition.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is travelling to North Africa this week to try to bolster moderates hoping to end Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

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