A unit of al Qaeda’s Syria branch has pledged loyalty to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Iraq‘s premier has ruled out a government of national unity in the face of the campaign by the mostly Sunni militants.
In a region of fractured alliances, the merger announced Wednesday could allow the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to control both sides of the border. The well-financed ISIS had seized Abu Qaim on the Iraqi side of the border earlier this week. Albu Kamal sits just opposite it, in Syria.
After months of clashes between ISIS and al Qaeda’s al Nusra Front in Syria, Nusra’s Albu Kamal branch “pledged loyalty to ISIS,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Wednesday. “They are rivals, but both groups are jihadist and extremists,” Abdel Rahman added. “This move will create tension now with other rebel groups, including Islamists, in the area.”