Syria jihadists promise fightback

A Syrian rebel group which has proclaimed loyalty to Al-Qaeda posted an audio recording attributed to its leader on Monday in which he promised a fightback.

In the recording, Al-Nusra Front leader Abu Mohammad al-Julani also hit out at Lebanon's Hezbollah militia whose public intervention in the Syrian conflict since late April has been a major factor in recent rebel reverses.

Julani's speech, entitled: "The Coming Days are Better Than Those of the Past," were his first since April 10, SITE Intelligence, which monitored the posting, said.

In it, the Nusra leader warned Lebanese Shiites not to allow Hezbollah to drag them into a proxy war in Syria on behalf of its Iranian backers.

"I warn those who claim Shiism in Lebanon about letting Iran drag you into a war that you can't bear," SITE quoted him as saying.

"I say that abandoning Hezbollah and disowning it will save you from woes and disasters that you would do without."

Julani also warned other Islamist rebel groups in Syria against the dangers of accepting support from Arab or Western governments.

"I warn against letting the Levant be dragged into such a game in which victories are kidnapped, blood is wasted and sacrifices go in vain," he said.

In Julani's last public intervention in April, he spoke out against the Al-Qaeda leadership in neighbouring Iraq for its attempt to steamroller a merger between jihadists in the two countries.

He made no reference in his latest speech to the controversy, which sparked a split among Al-Qaeda loyalists inside Syria between Al-Nusra and the rival Al-Qaeda in Iraq and Syria.

Both groups are blacklisted as terrorist organisations by Washington.