Nusra’s Golani Rejects Saudi Meetings, Threatens to Derail Any Future Truces

Opposition factions that participated in the Riyadh meetings have "betrayed the blood of the martyrs", Nusra Front leader tells journalists

Abu Mohammed al-Golani, leader of the Al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, has rejected decisions made by opposition leaders at talks in the Saudi capital, adding that his faction was not invited and would not have shown up even if it had been asked.

In an interview broadcast on a number of regional channels, Golani accused the factions that participated in the meeting of “betraying the blood of the martyrs".

"Some factions have attended the Riyadh conference due to international pressure, but this does not justify their attendance. Pressures remain a flimsy justification when compared to the size of the loss if a Riyadh agreement succeeds,” Golani explained.

“These factions will have no control over their elements in the field if the international community wanted to integrate the armed opposition with the regime's army so that Assad could remain president. Their fighters will not take part in the fight against the factions that reject this integration."

Golani added: "The militant factions on the ground are advancing, and the regime controls only 20 percent of Syria. The armed factions have more weapons than the regime, and we have not lost our ability to fight. The Russians did not intervene to protect the regime, but to revive it because it was dead."

Referring to current battles in the southern countryside of Aleppo, Golani said: "Nusra and the other factions have succeeded in stopping the progress of the Shia militias. Actually, we are holding an Iranian and three Hezbollah militants as prisoner."

Golani denounced the recent truces between rebels and the regime in a number of Syrian areas, saying that they only serve the interests of the regime. "We will try to disrupt the truce in Ghouta, and we will not accept them at all," he said.

The Islamist rebel leader denied any relationship with any foreign country, explaining: "Our funding comes from some commercial operations supervised by the Front."

"Any dissociation [with Al-Qaeda] will not help in the fall of the regime. The West classifies the factions according to their strategy, not only their name," he said.

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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