Al-Qaida disavows Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Feb. 3, 2014 at 11:01 AM

DAMASCUS, Syria, Feb. 3 (UPI) -- Al-Qaida disavowed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, whose members have had deadly clashes with Syrian rebels, a statement on jihadist websites said.

The post said Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant "is not a branch of al-Qaida [and] has no links to it" and al-Qaida was not responsible for the group's actions, MENA reported.

"Al-Qaida announces it is not linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, as it was not informed of its creation ... [and] did not accept it," the statement said.

In May, al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri ordered the group to disband and return to Iraq, saying al-Nusra Front was al-Qaida's official branch in war-torn Syria.

Jihadists at first were welcomed by some rebels in Syria's conflict, but allegations of brutality against civilians as well as rival opposition fighters led to a backlash, MENA said. Rebels accused Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant of trying to consolidate power rather than fight President Bashar Assad's regime.

In January, the tensions turned into armed clashes between Islamist and moderate rebels and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. MENA said more than 1,400 people were killed in the rebel-jihadist conflict.

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