Al Qaeda's ISIL threatens to 'crush' Syria opposition as fighting continues
Al-Qaeda group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) on Tuesday urged its fighters to “crush” other rebel groups in Syria, in an audio message from the group’s spokesman.
Abu Mohammad al-Adnani called on ISIL fighters in Syria to “crush them (the rebels) totally and kill the conspiracy at birth,” warning opposition fighters that “none of you will remain, and we will make of you an example to all those who think of following the same path,” AFP reported.
ISIL’s threat came hours after a rival al-Qaeda group said it has joined forces with other rebel groups in fighting ISIL.
Al-Nusra Front leader Abu Mohammad al-Golani said in an audio recording that “high-level” fighting erupted between his group and ISIL on Tuesday.
He blamed the fighting on what he said were “mistakes” made by ISIL, such as the arrest of a Nusra commander in Raqqa.
In his message, Golani urged all rebel groups to unite against President Bashar al-Assad regime.
“This unfortunate situation prompted us to make this initiative to save the ground from loss. This initiative calls for the formation of a legitimate committee from all recognized factions with an independent leadership,” he said.
Golani also noted that all infighting in the groups must end and an exchange of prisoners should take place, adding that rebels should focus their efforts on fighting Assad’s forces and not fighting each other.
Divisions within al-Qaeda appeared in November 2013, when al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri appointed al-Nusra Front jihadists to carry the network’s banner in Syria and ordered the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant to disband.
Zawahiri’s remarks confirmed a written order issued in June that has so far gone unheeded.
Zawahiri said that al-Nusra Front was the jihadist group’s only branch in Syria, tasked with reporting “to the general command,” and will no longer operate under the banner of al-Qaeda’s Iraq affiliate.
“The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is to be abolished, while the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) remains functioning,” he said.
In April 2013, a dispute erupted when ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had claimed that Nusra was now its branch in Syria, but that was rejected by Nusra commander Golani, who affirmed his allegiance to Zawahiri.
The al-Nusra Front, created in Jan. 2012, joined al-Qaeda in December of that year and is on a U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations.
The al-Nusra Front has carried out some of the deadliest attacks against the Syrian regime, including several suicide bombings.
The war in Syria has killed so far more than 120,000, according to the Observatory.