al nusra members
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was correct in noting that US negotiators were trying to protect the extremist al-Nusra Front under the latest ceasefire in Aleppo, former US diplomat Jim Jatras told Sputnik.

"It's really not much of a surprise that the United States would try to shoehorn the al-Nusra Front into a 'silent' period in Aleppo, as Lavrov charges," Jatras, a former longtime foreign policy adviser to Republican senators in the US Congress, said on Wednesday.

The US government attempted to include the al-Nusra Front in the new ceasefire agreement in Aleppo, but the Russian government insisted on excluding the Islamist group as unacceptable, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Sputnik in an exclusive interview on Wednesday.

US President Barack Obama had consistently supported Islamist movements, Jatras remarked.

"The fact is, the Obama administration will always stick with its client jihadists even if it means preserving groups they pretend are America's deadliest foes," he contended.

Obama remains determined to topple Syrian President Bashar Assad, Jatras explained.

"Despite all the talk about 'degrading' the Islamic State, and in spite of the obvious fact that the Syrian government headed by President Assad is going to survive, the Obama crowd still hopes to pull a rabbit out of their hat and force Russia to accept Assad's departure," he argued.

US policymakers have continually failed to recognize that removing Assad from power would simply open the way to worse anarchy in Syria or a complete Islamist takeover, Jatras stated.

"American policymakers still insist that Assad is the real cause of instability and radicalism in Syria, and that once he's gone a democratic and stable order will follow — notwithstanding the failed state NATO created in Libya, which Obama and Hillary Clinton amazingly still consider a success story," he noted.

The so-called "moderates" in Syria remained an essential tool for the US government to achieve its hope of a post-Assad "transition," Jatras continued.

"But because in Aleppo and elsewhere they are so mixed up with and dependent upon the al-Nusra Front to have any military credibility, Washington is willing to go to bat for the latter as well," he said.

Some prominent US figures, including retired Army General David Petraeus, the former US commander in Iraq, had openly called for the United States to cooperate with some elements of al-Qaeda, Jatras recalled.

"With regard to Lavrov's suggestion that the United States is being manipulated — one immediately thinks of the Saudis and Turks — there is no doubt of that," he conceded.

The underlying assumption in Washington, largely due to Saudi, Turkish, and Gulf states' influence, was that the Syrian war was a sectarian conflict, and that at the end of the day a Sunni sectarian state must come into existence, Jatras concluded.