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Report: Syrian opposition fighter group could revive al-Qaeda

Published: Updated:

A weakened al-Qaeda has the potential for resurgence in Syria, as the turmoil of civil war could help revive one of the group's branches, a report by a U.S. think tank said on Monday.

A report named Jihadist Terrorism: A Threat Assessment by the Bipartisan Policy Center's Homeland Security Project, said that the right set of circumstances in the unstable Middle East region could revive the network, according to Reuters news agency.

“It is too soon to predict the long-term threat posed by al-Qaeda and allied groups as the movement is undergoing a transition that may end up proving to be its last gasp,” said the report.

The al-Nusra front, a branch of al-Qaeda, is one of the powerful Syrian opposition groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad.

“Al-Qaeda's future rises and falls in Syria to some extent,” said Peter Bergen, an al-Qaeda expert and one of the co-authors of the threat assessment, according to Reuters.

“We can look around the world - there are actually a lot of places they're not doing well. But clearly they're doing very well in Syria.”

Al-Nusra has begun to operate as a large-scale provider of social services in Syria, to gain more support among the people in areas it controls, according to Reuters.

“This is something of a first for an al-Qaeda affiliate; developing a Mao like 'population centric' approach to implementing a successful insurgency,” the report said.

It also added that arming Syrian opposition groups could allow heavy weapons to fall into the hands of jihadist groups, with a concern over their access to Assad’s arson of chemical weapons, which can be used in Syria and also smuggled out of the country and used in future attacks.

Obama is struggling to convince U.S. lawmakers and foreign governments to back his plan for limited strikes against Assad's forces.

Congress is returning on Monday from the summer break and will begin debating on whether to approve limited U.S. military action in Syria, with a Senate vote possibly coming as early as Wednesday, AFP news agency reported.

(With Reuters and AFP)