Islamists eye sharia state in Syria
Western hopes of building a moderate Syrian opposition to President Bashar al-Assad have been set back after the Islamist militias that dominate the rebel movement said they were "going it alone" and intended to establish a sharia state.
The new Islamist alliance includes Jabhat al-Nusra, a jihadist group that has sworn loyalty to Ayman al-Zawahiri, the head of al-Qa'ida, Ahrar al-Sham, a hardline militant group, and a string of other brigades.
Representatives of secular forces in the opposition blamed US President Barack Obama's decision to hold off from air strikes and the West's wider failure to arm the pro-democracy opposition.
"If there is no international intervention in Syria it will become a second Afghanistan, a second Somalia," said Fahad al-Masri, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army.
The Islamists are funded and supplied by donors in the Gulf, many linked to militant causes.
A statement said that the rebel leaders in question would no longer have anything to do with the Syrian National Council.
"These forces call on military and civilian forces to unite under a clear Islamic framework based on sharia law, which should be the sole source of legislation," the statement said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)