BAGHDAD - Iraqi troops battled to dislodge an al-Qaida splinter group from the city of Tikrit on Monday after its leader was declared caliph of a new Islamic state in lands seized this month across a swathe of Iraq and Syria.

Alarming regional and world powers, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed universal authority, declaring its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was now caliph of the Muslim world - a medieval title last widely recognized in the Ottoman sultan deposed 90 years ago after World War One.

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"He is the imam and caliph for Muslims everywhere," group spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said in an online statement on Sunday, using titles that carry religious and civil power.

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