Trump’s Former Syria Envoy Calls al-Qaeda’s Syrian Offshoot ‘Asset’ to US

Middle East

Jim Jeffrey, the former Trump US special representative for Syria and special presidential envoy for the Western coalition against Daesh (ISIS)*, raised eyebrows in November after admitting that he and members of his staff had deliberately obfuscated and covered up the true size of the US military footprint in Syria from the president.

Former Syria envoy Jim Jeffrey has characterized Hayat Tahrir al-Sham,* the al-Qaeda*-linked group formerly known as the al-Nusra Front, as “an asset” to the current US strategy in Syria.

Jeffrey, who oversaw the Trump administration’s Syria policy until November 2020, when he retired, made the comments in an upcoming PBS documentary on Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, the former al-Qaeda commander who now is now chief of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.

The US formally continues to designate the group as a terrorist organization, with its Canadian, British and Turkish allies doing the same. Jolani has been designated a terrorist by the US since 2013, but told PBS that the designation is “unfair” because his ties to al-Qaeda are a thing of the past. Now, he insists, his battle against the Assad government and against Daesh (ISIS)* makes him an ally to the US and the West in general.

Al-Qaeda is held responsible for the largest terrorist attack on US soil in history, killing nearly 3,000 Americans in attacks in New York, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania on 11 September 2001, with hundreds more…

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