BEIRUT - Al-Qaida's general command said on Monday it has no links with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), in an apparent attempt to assert authority over the Islamist militant groups involved in Syria's civil war.

Small but powerful, ISIL has been caught up in battles with other Islamist insurgents often triggered by disputes over authority and territory, and has also clashed with secular rebels.

ISIL follows al Qaeda's hard-line ideology and, until now, the two groups were widely believed to be linked.

However, the organizations that have clashed with ISIL include Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaida's official Syria wing, which is led by al-Qaida chief Ayman Zawahri.

In a message posted on jihadi websites on Monday, the al-Qaida General Command said ISIL "is not a branch of the al-Qaida group.

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