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Jihadists fighting in Syria, Iraq declare 'caliphate'

Published on Jun 30, 2014 6:17 AM

BEIRUT (AFP) - A ruthless jihadist group that rivals Al-Qaeda in battles with the governments of Syria and Iraq declared on Sunday it is establishing a "caliphate", or Islamist state, straddling the two countries.

In an audio recording released online, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - or ISIL - declared its chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi "the caliph" and "leader for Muslims everywhere".

The jihadists said their caliphate would spread from Aleppo in northern Syria to Diyala in eastern Iraq, and ordered Muslims in those areas to "obey" and pay allegiance to their new leader.

"The Shura (council) of the Islamic State met and discussed this issue... (and) the Islamic State decided to establish an Islamic caliphate and to designate a caliph for the state of the Muslims," said ISIL spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani.

Members of Kurdish security forces with their weapons take cover in a shelter during clashes with militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, in the village of Basheer, south of the city of Kirkuk on June 29, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
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