Iraq

Leader of Al Qaeda-Linked Group in Syria Calls For Ceasefire Within Assad's Opposition

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Credit: ISIL/wikimedia

The leader of Jabhat al-Nusra, the Al Qaeda-linked rebel group fighting against the Assad regime, has called for an end to the recent violence that has erupted between different factions of Assad's opposition.

In an audio recording Jabhat al-Nusra's leader, Abu Mohammed al-Golani, blames much of the recent violence on another group with links to Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Reuters has been unable to confirm the authenticity of the recording, but reported that "it was posted on a Twitter account used by the Nusra Front."

Rebels in Syria recently killed 34 foreign Al Qaeda-linked fighters, most of whom were reportedly from ISIL.  

ISIL recently took control of the Iraqi city of Fallujah, which is less than 50 miles west of Baghdad, and has taken over parts of Ramadi, which like Fallujah is in the Sunni majority Anbar province. According to an Iraqi military spokesman, Al Qaeda-linked fighters have set up a government in Fallujah and are the only source of order there.

As Reuters' reporting explains, ISIL's activities in Iraq are only part of a wider goal, namely the creation of "a radical Islamic state out of the chaos of neighbouring Syria's civil war."

Unsurprisingly, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have blamed President Obama for the fall of Fallujah, calling the situation "predictable."

In their statement, McCain and Graham, who have both argued for arming rebels in Syria, also say that the Obama administration's policy in Syria has failed. It is worth keeping in mind that were the U.S. to have sent the weapons McCain and Graham wanted to rebels in Syria there would have been a chance that the weapons would eventually end up in the hands of ISIL, who are now in control of Fallujah.

The news from the last few days has highlighted that groups like ISIL are not ones that the U.S. should risk inadvertently supporting.