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Monday
Feb132012

Al Qaeda Leader Calls to End Syrian Regime

Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images(DAMASCUS, Syria) -- The U.S. and al Qaeda are finally on the same side of an issue: They both agree Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should step down.

While the Obama administration would hardly say that this development makes the U.S. and its most dangerous enemy simpatico, the message from al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri does suggest that al-Assad has few friends in the international community outside of Moscow and Beijing.

Al-Zawahri, who took over following the U.S. assassination of predecessor Osama bin Laden, called on Muslims to support the opposition movement that wants to depose al-Assad after 11 months of a government crackdown that has cost over 6,000 lives.

In his videotaped message released on an radical Islamic website, al-Zawahri said the Muslim world can't depend on the West to step in to depose the Syrian leader, who has recently stepped up attacks on pro-reform dissidents in the country's third largest city of Homs.

The al Qaeda chief's message was directed to the four Muslim countries that border Syria: Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

While those governments may be reluctant to get involved against what al-Zawahri described as a "pernicious, cancerous regime," there are concerns among U.S. officials that al Qaeda may be preparing to send its own fighters into Syria to join opposition forces.

As it is, al-Qaeda in Iraq established an operational network in Syria long before the government crackdown began last March.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio