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Al Qaeda leader orders disbandment of Syria unit

Last Updated: Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 21:28

Moscow: In a significant development ahead of the Geneva II talks on the Syrian crisis, al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri has called for disbandment of its affiliated unit, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

"The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is to be abolished, while the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) remains functioning (in Iraq)," al-Zawahari told al Jazeera in an audio-taped message, according to reports Sunday.

He said that ISIL leader Abu Bakr Baghdadi "made a mistake by establishing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant without asking for our permission, or even informing".

The merger plan has been "damaging to all jihadists", Zawahiri said.

The jihadist Al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra) would continue to function as "an independent branch of al Qaeda that reports to the general command", while the activities of the ISI would be limited to operations inside Iraq, the Russia Today quoted Zawahiri as saying in the tape to Al Jazeera.

"It is not clear when Friday`s (Nov 8) statement was recorded, but it appears to be confirmation of a letter that Ayman al-Zawahri allegedly wrote in June that was posted on Al Jazeera`s website. However, at that time the letter`s authenticity could not be independently verified," the Russia Today reported.

Earlier in June, Zawahri had to intervene in a dispute between the Iraqi and Syrian branches of his network.

The discord between Al Qaeda branches occurred back in April when ISIL announced it had united with Syria`s Al-Nusra Front, which gained much power in Syria through engaging in fight directly against government troops and local militias allied with it.

Although Al-Nusra leader Abu Mohammed al-Jawlani acknowledged a relationship between the two groups, he denied there had been a merger and publicly pledged his loyalty to Zawahiri.

First Published: Sunday, November 10, 2013 - 21:28
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