BEIRUT – The leader of al-Qaeda’s Syria wing said his group was focused on capturing Damascus and warned members of the country’s minority Alawite sect to renounce President Bashar Assad and change their beliefs in order to be safe. “We will continue our
focus on Damascus and on toppling this regime,” Nusra’s Abu Mohamad al-Golani told news channel Al Jazeera in a rare interview aired on Wednesday. “I assure you, Assad’s fall won’t take a long time.” His warning to Alawite villages and uncompromising language will do little to dispel Western fears about the growing influence of hardline insurgents in Syria and Nusra’s loyalty to al-Qaeda. The Alawite community, of which Assad is a member, is an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam.