Al-Qaida leader calls for truce between jihadists, Islamists in Syria

DAMASCUS, Syria, Jan. 23 (UPI) —

Al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri called on jihadists and Islamists in Syria to "immediately" stop fighting each other and work together to oust the regime.

Zawahiri uploaded an audio message to YouTube late Wednesday addressing al-Qaida-linked jihadists and Islamists fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad, Middle East Online reported.

The message urged "every free person in Syria seeking to overthrow al-Assad… to seek an end to fighting between brothers in jihad and Islam immediately."

Jihadists were initially welcomed among the ranks of the rebels, but clashes sparked after they were accused abuses against civilians as well as rival opposition fighters.

"These organizational ties can be sacrificed without second thought if they conflicted with your unity… against your enemy," Zawahiri said. "Jihadist groups are our brothers whom we refuse to accuse of apostasy."