Al-Qaeda urges help for Syrian rebels
AL-Qaeda's chief has called on Muslims from other countries to support rebels in Syria seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, saying they cannot depend on the West for help.
Ayman al-Zawahri, in a videotaped statement released late yesterday, asked Muslims in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to join the uprising against Assad's "pernicious, cancerous regime". All four states border Syria.
A senior Iraqi security official also told the Associated Press that intelligence over the past four months has revealed a flow of al-Qaeda-linked fighters from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul into Syria.
The comments by both the Iraqi official and al-Zawahri came a day after two suicide car bombers struck security compounds in Aleppo, a Syrian city that had been relatively peaceful throughout the country's 11-month-uprising.
Though there was no claim of responsibility, suicide bombings are a hallmark of al-Qaeda.
"Don't depend on the West and Turkey, which had deals, mutual understanding and sharing with this regime for decades and only began to abandon it after they saw it faltering," he said. "Instead, depend on Allah alone and then on your sacrifices, resistance and steadfastness."
He urged Syrians to oppose help from the Arab League and "its corrupt agent governments".
The Arab League has put forth a plan to try to end violence in Syria but it suspended an observers mission to the country after the regime flouted its agreement to the terms of the plan.
Hours later, a Sunni sheik in Iraq's northern Kurdish region said a group of clerics in the area is calling for a Muslim jihad, or holy war, against Assad's regime.
"Jihad is the duty of every Muslim against the Assad regime," said Sheik Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Karim Barzanji, describing the edict issued by the Union of the Scholars of Islam in Kurdistan. "Any support from any Muslim or country is forbidden."
"Jihad" is literally translated as "holy war" but Islam dictates also interpret it as supporting fighters with money or other support - and not necessary fighting.