Iraq’s al Qaeda wing has united with a kindred Syrian group in the frontline of a struggle to oust President Bashar al-Assad, sharpening a dilemma for nations that back the revolt, but fear rising Islamist militancy.
The leader of the Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said his group had trained and funded fighters from Syria’s al-Nusra Front - which is blacklisted by the United States - since the early days of the two-year-old uprising.
He said in a statement posted on Islamist websites and seen by Reuters on Tuesday that the two groups would operate under the joint title of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
While the group’s work with other Syrian opposition forces is well-documented, the continued presence of al-Qaeda in Syria among rebel forces is unlikely to sway those debating whether or not to increase monetary/military support for those opposing the Assad regime.
15:07 // 11 months ago