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Syria becoming home to two competing Islamic states

A rebel fighter stands on a street covered with dust following a reported air strike by Syrian government forces in the old city of Aleppo on July 21, 2014A new power struggle has emerged within the Syrian rebellion after Al-Qaeda announced it aims to create an Islamic “emirate” to compete with rival jihadist group, the Islamic State (IS). As with IS in its early days, when it was still known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Al-Qaeda affiliate the Al-Nusra Front is spreading its zone of influence, taking over strategically located villages, and competing with other rebel groups. On July 11, an audio recording attributed to Al-Nusra’s chief Abu Mohammad al-Jolani was distributed via YouTube, in which he announced the group’s intention to establish an Islamic “emirate”. “The time has come, O loved ones, to create an emirate in the Levant,” Jolani said, adding that its borders will be with “the regime, those who exaggerate (the Islamic State), the corrupt ones (the rebels),” and the Kurds.

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