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Iraqi group unites with Syrian one

April 10, 2013 at 11:50 AM

BAGHDAD, April 10 (UPI) -- A group with ties to al-Qaida, the Islamic State of Iraq, has announced its unity with a Syrian group the United States has designated as terrorist.

The Islamic State of Iraq posted an audio statement on its website late Monday on its relationship with al-Nusra Front or Jabhat al-Nusra, the Chicago Tribune reported. The announcement the two groups are now joined as "the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" was said to come from Islamic State of Iraq founder Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

"The time has come to declare before the people of Syria and the whole world, that Jabhat al-Nusra is nothing more than an extension of the Islamic State of Iraq, and a part of it," the announcement said.

Al-Nusra Front appeared last year among the many groups fighting Syrian President Bashar Assad.

"We extend our hands widely and open our arms and hearts to the jihadi factions in the name of Allah," the Islamic State audio statement said.

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