Al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria will not accept any results that come from peace talks next month to end the civil war, its chief said in an Al-Jazeera television interview to be aired Thursday.
“We will not recognise any results that come out of the Geneva 2 conference,” Al-Jazeera’s website quoted Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani, the head of Al-Nusra Front, as saying.
He was referring to a conference set to begin January 22 in Switzerland, bringing together representatives of the Damascus government and the opposition, as well as countries taking opposite sides in the war.
Geneva 2, a follow-up to a 2012 meeting, will aim to map out a political transition to end nearly three years of fighting that has killed more than 126,000 people and displaced millions.
In an apparent reference to the opposition Syrian National Coalition, he said “those taking part in the conference do not represent the people who sacrificed.
“Besides, who has authorised them to represent the people?”
The man whose group Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri named as the official branch of the network in Syria dismissed opposition representatives slated to attend as those who “have no presence on the ground.”
Jawlani also said the battle against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is almost over, claiming that the rebels “will achieve victory soon.”
In what is billed as Jawlani’s first television interview, Al-Jazeera said the man asked that his face not be shown.
Correspondent Tayseer Allouni, who conducted the interview, said the security checks he went through were stricter than those carried out before he met now-deceased Al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden in 2001.
Al-Nusra, formed in January 2012, joined Al-Qaeda last December on a US list of foreign terrorist organisations.
It and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant are the most powerful jihadist groups fighting against Assad.