Al-Qaeda in Iraq said for the first time on Tuesday that Al-Nusra Front, a jihadist group battling President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, was part of its network and fighting for an Islamic state in Syria.
The remarks by the leader of Al-Qaeda’s front group in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, were made in an audio message posted on jihadist forums and confirm widespread suspicions of links between the two groups.
The group will now be combined and called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
Baghdadi said the group was willing to ally with other groups “on the condition that the country and its citizens be governed according to the rules dictated by Allah”.
Al-Nusra Front first gained notoriety for its suicide bombings in Syria but has evolved into a formidable fighting force leading attacks on battlefronts throughout the country.
Its suspected affiliation to Al-Qaeda’s front group in Iraq led to it being labelled a “terrorist” organisation by Washington in December.