(NEW YORK) — In what could only be described as an ominous turn in the ongoing Syrian conflict, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has put out a call to arms for all Muslims to take the side of rebel forces.
Making his videotaped plea, which was posted on a radical Islamic website, Osama bin Laden’s successor said that Syrians must overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad, which he labeled a “murderous, cancerous regime.”
Al-Zawahiri proclaimed, “It is the right of Syrians to protect themselves in all ways possible from injustice, murder, killing and bombardment” — a reference to the onslaught of al-Assad’s forces against both rebels and civilians in a furious bid to stay in power.
The al Qaeda leader added that Muslims all over the world must help Syrians in their efforts to oust al-Assad.
While Washington also seeks to depose al-Assad, the Obama administration is also concerned that replacement leaders could be unduly influenced by al Qaeda, further complicating the situation in Syria.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com
Nate Eaton and Stephan Rockefeller, EastIdahoNews.com
Idaho State Journal staff