MARRAKECH, Morocco, Dec 11 (Reuters) - A high-level official in the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood said on Tuesday the United States had made a "very wrong" decision by designating the militant Islamist al-Nusra Front rebel group as a terrorist organisation.
"The designation is very wrong and too hasty. I think it is too early to categorise people inside Syria this way, considering the chaos and the grey atmosphere in the country," Farouk Tayfour, deputy leader of the group, told Reuters as U.S. and other officials arrived in Marrakech for a meeting of international powers supportive of the Syrian revolt.
Tayfour, a key figure in the Brotherhood, the best organised group among the civilian opposition to President Bashar al-Assad, said the decision would lose the United States popularity in Syria because the Nusra Front is liked by Syrians bearing the brunt of Assad's crackdown on the 20-month-old revolt.
"They are seen as (a group that) can be relied on to defend the country and the civilians against the regular army and Assad's gangs," Tayfour said.
"It could be that a person from al-Nusra in some village carried arms and grouped people to defend against Assad's militiamen and these people are now designated as Nusra but after the regime falls they may leave the whole ideology and not consider it its own," he added.
The United States on Tuesday designated the Islamist Jabhat (front) al-Nusra, an important fighting force in the opposition struggle, as a foreign terrorist organisation and said it was trying to hijack the rebellion on behalf of al Qaeda in Iraq.