x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Syrian militant group Jabhat Al Nusra merges with Iraq's Al Qaeda

The leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq has announced it has merged with Syria's extremist Jabhat Al Nusra, which has sided with the rebels fighting President Bashar Al Assad's regime.

CAIRO // The leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq has announced it has merged with Syria's extremist Jabhat Al Nusra, which has sided with the rebels fighting President Bashar Al Assad's regime.

Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, said the two groups will rally under the same Al Qaeda flag. His announcement came in a 21-minute audio message posted on militant websites late last night.

Mr Al Baghdadi said the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria's Jabhat Al Nusra will be known as the "Islamic State in Iraq and Sham."

The development is likely to raise concerns among foreign backers of Syria's opposition.

Jabhat Al Nusra has taken an increasing role in Syria's conflict, claiming several large suicide bombings. The United States has designated it a terrorist organisation.