Al-Qaeda says it is severing all ties with one of its purported branches fighting in Syria and that it is distancing itself from the rebel infighting in the civil war.
Al-Qaeda’s general command said in an Internet statement early Monday that it’s cutting off the group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, after it disobeyed orders from the terror network’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahri.
The authenticity of the statement could not independently be verified, but it was posted on websites commonly used by al-Qaeda.
Al-Zawahri last May ordered the Islamic State to operate independently from a rival al-Qaeda branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, led by Abu Mohammed al-Golani. Al-Baghdadi rejected al-Zawahri’s orders and unsuccessfully sought to merge the two branches.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported late Saturday that the ISIL killed 26 people, including the commander of a rival rebel group, the al-Tawheed Brigades, in a twin car-bombing near the group’s base in Aleppo.
The al-Tawheed Brigades confirmed the attack on Twitter, saying in an interview they posted that their commander, Adnan Bakour was killed.
A coalition of rebel groups has for weeks been fighting the ISIL, a group resented by many rebels for its perceived arrogance and extremism.