LOUGH ERNE, June 18 (RIA Novosti) – The heads of government of the world’s biggest economic powers on Tuesday urged the conflicting sides in the Syrian civil war to destroy or expel all al-Qaida affiliates fighting in the country.
In a joint statement issued at the end of the two-day G-8 summit in Lough Erne, Northern Ireland, the G-8 leaders said they were “deeply concerned by the growing threat from terrorism and extremism in Syria, and also by the increasingly sectarian nature of the conflict.”
“We call on the Syrian authorities and opposition at the Geneva Conference jointly to commit to destroying and expelling from Syria all organizations and individuals affiliated to al-Qaida, and any other non-state actors linked to terrorism,” the declaration said. An international conference devoted to solving the Syrian crisis is due to take place in Geneva in the near future.
Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service director Viktor Ivanov claimed in April that 15,000-20,000 foreign mercenaries are fighting on the side of the Syrian opposition forces against President Bashar Assad’s government troops, though he did not provide any evidence to support those figures.
Last year, the Syrian government submitted to the UN Security Council a list of more than 100 foreign nationals killed while fighting against government troops in Syria.
The global militant Islamic organization al-Qaida has officially confirmed that Jabhat al-Nusra, or the Nusra Front, a militant group fighting alongside the Syrian rebels, is part of the organization.
According to the latest UN data, more than 90,000 people have been killed in Syria since fighting broke out in March 2011 between government forces and rebels.