BAGHDAD – Al-Qaida in Iraq said for the first time Tuesday that Jabhat al-Nusra, a jihadist group battling President Bashar Assad’s regime, was part of its network and fighting for an Islamic state in Syria.
The remarks by the leader of al-Qaida’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.
“It is time to declare to the Levant and to the world that Jabhat al-Nusra is simply a branch of the Islamic State of Iraq,” Baghdadi said in the audio message.
The groups 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.”