Watchdog: Jihadist al-Nusra chief wounded near Damascus

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The leader of the powerful jihadist rebel force, al-Nusra Front, was wounded by army bombing near the Syrian capital on Wednesday, a watchdog said.

Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani was wounded with other members of his group in southern Damascus province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, citing militants in the area.

Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP that Jawlani had been hit in the foot.

The head of Syria's jihadist al-Nusra previously pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in an audio message, but distanced his group from claims it had merged with al-Qaeda in Iraq.

“The sons of al-Nusra Front pledge allegiance to Sheikh Ayman al-Zawahiri,” al-Jawlani said in the recording.

The pledge of this allegiance generated swift and unprecedented condemnation from Syrian opposition groups.

“We reject the thoughts of al-Qaeda. Syria is a country where moderate Islam prevails,” said Moaz al-Khatib, head of the main opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition.

“The bottom line is that al-Qaeda’s ideology doesn’t suit us, and rebels in Syria have to take a clear stance about this,” he added.

Khatib’s call has been echoed.

“We don’t support the ideology of al-Nusra,” said Louay Meqdad, spokesman for the rebel Free Syrian Army.

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