Nusra Front Fighters on front line 370.
(photo credit: reuters)
The al-Nusra Front, a Syrian Sunni rebel group, pledged allegiance to al- Qaida
leader Ayman al- Zawahri and distanced itself from a recently announced merger
with its Iraq branch.
“The sons of Nusra Front renew their pledge [of
allegiance] to the Sheikh of Jihad Ayman al- Zawahri and declare obedience,”
al-Nusra’s leader, Abu Muhammad al- Golani said in an audio recording posted
This announcement came a day after the leader of the
Islamic State of Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said the two groups would unite and
be called the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant.
Golani denied the union
with the Iraqi branch of al-Qaida, saying he had heard about it from the media.
He said that his group would remain independent of the Iraqi group but would be
loyal to Zawahri.
Golani did admit a close relationship with the Iraqi
branch, having fought with them in Iraq before coming to Syria, according to a
report in The Washington Post.
The Syrian government and its supporters
jumped on the news since it has been claiming that terrorists and al-Qaida
fighters dominate the opposition.
This “proves that this opposition was
never anything other than a tool used by the West and by terrorists to destroy
the Syrian people,” AP quoted the Syrian state news agency as saying.