Syrian al Qaeda group gives rival Islamists ultimatum

BEIRUT Tue Feb 25, 2014 11:56am EST

People stand in front of a former base used by fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) after rebels fighters captured it from the ISIL in al-Dana town in Idlib province January 9, 2014. REUTERS/Abdalghne Karoof

People stand in front of a former base used by fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) after rebels fighters captured it from the ISIL in al-Dana town in Idlib province January 9, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Abdalghne Karoof

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - The head of al Qaeda's wing in Syria has given rival Islamist militants five days to accept mediation to end their infighting or face a war which "will terminate them", according to an audio recording posted on Tuesday.

Abu Mohammed al-Golani, leader of the Nusra Front, called on the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group to agree to arbitration by religious scholars to end more than a year of feuding which has turned violent in some areas in Syria.

Heavy clashes between the two groups and other Islamist fighters in rebel-held northern and eastern Syria have led to hundreds of deaths and have undermined the wider military campaign against President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

"We will wait for five days from the date of this recording for your formal reply," Golani said in the audio tape, released on an Islamist web site.

"By God, if you reject God's ruling again and do not put an end to your plague against the Umma (Muslim nation), then the Umma will launch an assault against this ignorant ideology and will terminate it, even from Iraq," he said.

The fighting broke out at the start of the year when several rebel groups launched what appeared to be coordinated attacks on ISIL fighters, who have alienated many Syrians in the areas under their control.

Golani's Nusra Front, which has sworn allegiance to al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri, had until then avoided openly confronting ISIL, with which it shares a radical jihadi ideology, despite deep rivalry and tensions between the two groups.

Al Qaeda has dissociated itself from ISIL.

In his statement, Golani differentiated between ISIL and the Western-backed rebel Supreme Military Command and the opposition National Coalition, both of which he described as infidel groups.

(Reporting by Dominic Evans and Mariam Karouny; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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Comments (12)
TruWorldPeace wrote:
This must be a very worrying development for Obama & Kerry. The Al Qaeda gangs are Americas’s key allies in the US-led fight against the legitimate government of Syria.

Feb 25, 2014 8:38am EST  --  Report as abuse
KyleDexter wrote:
So these are our beloved rebels.
Long live Assad!!!!!! I hope his government wipes out all of these terrorists! But maybe they will kill eachother off without the Syrian arny dropping a single bomb, what a delight!

Feb 25, 2014 9:02am EST  --  Report as abuse
westernshame wrote:
now is the time for the Syrian majority and the true opposition minority to set aside their differences and slaughter these western backed terrorists.

this could be the first step to saving what is left of their country and culture as well as send a message to the western warmongers that their wars of terror will not be tolerated anymore.

Feb 25, 2014 9:22am EST  --  Report as abuse
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