Iraqi al-Qaida, Syria group merge
BEIRUT (AP) — Al-Qaida’s branch in Iraq said it has merged with Syria’s extremist Jabhat al-Nusra, a move that shows the rising confidence of radicals within Syria’s rebel movement and is likely to trigger renewed fears among its international backers.
A website linked to Jabhat Al-Nusra confirmed today the merger with the Islamic State of Iraq, whose leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi first made the announcement in a 21-minute audio posted on militant websites late Monday.
Jabhat Al-Nusra has taken an ever-bigger role in Syria’s conflict over the last year, claiming to have taken the lead role in key battles and staged several large suicide bombings. The U.S. has designated it a terrorist organization.