DOHA , Qatar, May 28 (UPI) -- The leader of the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front announced its mission in Syria is to capture Damascus and topple President Bashar al-Assad.
The insurgent group has fought alongside other militias in capturing the city of Idrib and the town of Jisr al-Shughour, bringing the al-Nusra Front closer to Damascus, Syria's capital.
"The orders from Dr. Ayman al-Zawahiri (current al-Qaida leader) are we should not attack the West from Syria, because it won't help us, and it may complicate the situation," Abu Mohammad al-Golani said Wednesday in a rare interview. "We will continue our focus on Damascus and on toppling this regime. I assure you, Assad's fall won't take a long time."
He also issued a warning to Syria's Shiite Alawite community, of which Bashar is a member, saying, "If the Alawites disowned Bashar al-Assad, stopped supporting his regime, and if they stopped practicing their erroneous doctrine, we would forgive them."
Golani has been on the U.S. government list of terrorists since 2013, and airstrikes led by the United States in Syria have included al-Nusra targets.