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Al-Qaida-linked group claims deadly Syria blast

By The Associated Press

This article was published January 28, 2013 at 8:59 a.m.

— An al-Qaida-linked group fighting alongside Syrian rebels claimed responsibility Monday for a suicide car bombing that reportedly killed dozens of President Bashar Assad’s loyalists last week.

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius pleaded for countries to honor their pledges of funding and other aid to the Syrian opposition to keep the country out of the hands of Islamist militant groups.

“If we don’t give the means to the Syrian people to go achieve their freedom, there is a risk, and we all know it exists, that massacres and antagonisms amplify, and that extremism and terrorism prevail.

“Chaos is not tomorrow, it is today, and we need to end it. We need to end it in a peaceful way and that means increased and concrete support to the Syrian National Coalition.”

Islamic militants have been the most organized fighters battling government troops in the 22-month-old conflict in which more than 60,000 people have been killed.

Their growing prominence has fueled fears that Muslim radicals might try to hijack the revolt, and has contributed to the West’s hesitance to equip the opposition with sophisticated weapons.

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