The leader of a militant group fighting on the side of Syria’s rebels has for the first time pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda and the terror network’s No. 1, Ayman al-Zawahri.
In an audio message on Wednesday, Abu Mohammad al-Golani also confirms ties with al-Qaeda’s Iraq branch but says that he wasn’t consulted ahead of an announcement on the two groups’ merger.
Al-Qaeda’s branch in Iraq on Tuesday >announced it joined forces with the Syrian group, and that the new union will be called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
But al-Golani says the announcement was premature and that his Jabhat al-Nusra will continue to use its own name.
It’s unclear if al-Golani is denying the merger.