MARRAKECH, Morocco - The leader of Syria's opposition coalition urged the United States on Wednesday to review its decision to designate the militant Islamist Jabhat al-Nusra as a terrorist group, saying religion was a legitimate motive for Syrian rebels.
"The decision to consider a party that is fighting the regime as a terrorist party needs to be reviewed," Mouaz Alkhatib told a "Friends of Syria" meeting in Morocco, where Western and Arab states granted full recognition to the coalition seeking to oust President Bashar Assad.
"We might disagree with some parties and their ideas and their political and ideological vision. But we affirm that all the guns of the rebels are aimed at overthrowing the tyrannical criminal regime."
Khatib also called on Syria's Alawite minority on Wednesday to launch a campaign of civil disobedience against Assad, an Alawite facing a mainly Sunni Muslim uprising against his rule.
The United States designated the Jabhat al-Nusra (Nusra Front) as a foreign terrorist organization and said it was trying to hijack the revolt on behalf of al-Qaida in Iraq.
Without naming al-Nusra, US Deputy Secretary of State William Burns urged Alkhatib's coalition to "take a firm stand against extremists" who could commandeer the revolt.
"Transition is coming one way or another," he told the meeting in the city of Marrakech.