US President Barack Obama has ordered the Pentagon to find and kill the leaders of the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham militant group, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, the Washington Post reports with reference to sources.
The US administration had largely ignored this order until now. The decision to deploy more drones and intelligence assets against the militant group reflects Obama’s concern that it is turning parts of Syria into a new base of operations for al-Qaeda on Europe’s southern doorstep, the officials said.
The move underlines the extent to which Obama has come to prioritize the counterterrorism mission in Syria over efforts to pressure President Bashar al-Assad to step aside, as al-Nusra is among the most effective forces battling the Syrian government.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov commented Obama's order. He noted that it is complicated to comment on information in the media, especially in the media like Washington Post, for which reliability of published information has not been characteristic recently". According to him, "in some cases, it was simply not true."
"If a decision like that has been made, we can only welcome it," TASS cited him as saying.
But he added that "in foreign policies and diplomacy reactions are given to official statements, and as yet we have not seen anything of the kind."