Report: Lebanese, Syrians in Al-Nusra Front Defect, Join Islamic State Ranksإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
A group loyal to al-Qaida's official Syrian arm the Al-Nusra Front will head soon to the governorate of al-Raqqa in northern Syria to pledge allegiance to the Islamic State, al-Akhbar newspaper reported.
The daily said in a report published on Wednesday that Al-Nusra Front fighters are angered by the “achievements accomplished by the Islamic State,” which prompted Abou Malek al-Shami, the emir of the al-Qaida-linked group in al-Qalamoun, to issue an audio tape in order to convince the group’s members not to defect.
The group is allegedly comprised of Lebanese and Syrian nationals.
Last week, al-Shami promised in an audio message to free Islamist prisoners in Roumieh “within days,” describing the inmates as “Muslim captives and jihadist brethren.”
The newspaper said that a large number of Lebanese fighters in the Bekaa Valley and northern Lebanon named al-Shami as their Emir after the Nusra Front failed to appoint one.
Around 50 people from an estimated 600 fighters in areas near the Syrian-Lebanese border have so far defected from the Nusra Front.
Meanwhile, security sources told al-Akhbar that around 20 people in the southern Ain el-Hilweh refugee camp also pledged allegiance to the Islamic State and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the enigmatic self-proclaimed "caliph" of a state straddling Iraq and Syria.
Sources said that Mohammed A., also identified as Abou Aisha, is leading the group.
Although both IS and the Al-Nusra Front are rooted in al-Qaida, the two have been rivals for much of the time that IS has been involved in Syria's civil war since spring last year.
The newspaper said that the rise of the Islamic State inflicted damage on the reputation of Al-Nusra Front that hasn't been able to achieve much recently.
Last week, the shadowy Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
The ruthless jihadists of the ISIL, who are spearheading a Sunni militant offensive in Iraq, on Sunday declared an "Islamic caliphate" and ordered Muslims worldwide to pledge allegiance to their chief, in a spectacular bid to extend their authority.
The group renamed itself simply the Islamic State (IS) and declared its elusive frontman the leader of the world's Muslims, in a clear challenge to al-Qaida for control of the global jihadist movement.
A "caliphate" is an Islamic form of government last seen under the Ottoman Empire.
The mysterious Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade had in the past claimed that it is an affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, but the ISIL later denied that.