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Al-Qaida militant group in Iraq said Tuesday that al-Nusra Front, a jihadist group fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's administration, is part of its " Islamic state."
"It is time to declare to the Levant and the whole world that al-Nusra Front is not but an extension for the Islamic state of Iraq and part of it," according to an audio message by Abu Baker al-Baghdadi, leader of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq group.
"We declare the cancelation of the name of Islamic State of Iraq, and the cancelation of the name of al-Nusra Front and combine them under single name which is the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant," al-Baghdadi said in the message which was posted on the Internet, adding that the leader of the Syrian part of the self-styled state will be a Syrian.
The authenticity of the statement could not be immediately verified. Syria has been wrecked by violence since the outbreak of political unrest since March 2011. Al-Nusra Front has claimed responsibility for a number of fatal bombings targeting Syrian civilians and government institutions.