Syrian jihadist group al-Nusra Front, linked to al-Qaeda, on Sunday vowed revenge strikes on villages from President Bashar al-Assad’s community over accusations the embattled leader’s forces used chemical weapons.
“The Alawite villages will pay the price for each chemical rocket that struck our people in Damascus,” al-Nusra front chief Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani said in an audio message posted on the internet and on his Twitter account, according to AFP.
Assad comes from the Alawite community, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Most Sunni rebel groups fighting to topple him, including al-Nusra, follow Sunni Islam.
Groups opposing the Syrian regime say that Assad’s forces as responsible for the reported attack and led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people.
On Saturday, U.S. President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron spoke of their grave concern about the “increasing signs” of a large-scale chemical weapons attack in Syria, which Doctors Without Borders said had killed 355 people, due to “neurotoxic” symptoms.
A statement from Obama’s administration said that the two leaders agreed to “continue to consult closely” on the supposed chemical weapons attack near Damascus last week.
So far, Obama has taken a cautious approach over the Syrian conflict, warning that a sudden military response could have unpredictable consequences, such as a prolonged Middle East conflict.
However, calls to action on his administration have increased following the alleged chemical weapons attack.
“The fact that President Assad has failed to cooperate with the U.N. suggests that the regime has something to hide,” said a Downing Street spokesperson on Saturday, adding that “significant use of chemical weapons would merit a serious response from the international community,” according to AFP.