The Amir of Jabhat al-Nusra has given its main Islamist rival group a five-day ultimatum to accept mediation and end infighting or be “expelled” from the region.
Abu Mohammed al-Golani, al-Nusra’s leader, delivered his ultimatum to the leadership of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) yesterday.
Golani warned the ISIS that it would be driven out of Syria and “even from Iraq” if it refused the outcome of arbitration.
Al-Golani said in an audio recording posted on the internet: “We are waiting for your official answer within five days of issuing this statement.
“By God, if you reject God’s judgment again, and do not stop your arrogant overlording over the Muslim nation, then we will be forced to launch an assault against this aggressive, ignorant ideology and will expel it, even from Iraq.”
Fighting between the rebel factions is undermining the wider battle against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Al-Qaeda and ISIS
The warning came two days after the killing of Abu Khaled al-Suri, who was Al-Qaeda’s Amir, Ayman al-Zawahiri’s main representative in Syria.
Rebels and activists on the ground believe he was assassinated by two suicide bombers from the ISIS, but there is no concrete evidence to confirm this.
Zawahiri has designated al-Nusra as Al-Qaeda’s official wing in Syria and has disowned ISIS, which was an offshoot of the Iraqi branch, originally known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq (ISI).
ISIS has angered other rebel factions with its ruthless tactics and harsh implementation of Shariah law in areas it controls in the northeast.
Nearly 2,000 people have been killed in fighting between ISIS and other Islamist brigades, including al-Nusra.
In the audio recording, Golani suggested the mediation be conducted by three senior Al-Qaeda scholars, two that are currently imprisoned in Jordan and one imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.
He did not mention how they would handle the arbitration while they remained in detention.
Both al-Nusra and ISIS are listed as terrorist organisations by the U.S.