Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Militants declare captured territory in Iraq and Syria an Islamic state

BAGHDAD — The extremist group battling its way through swaths of Iraq and Syria declared the creation of a formal Islamic state Sunday, building on its recent military gains and laying down an ambitious challenge to al-Qaida's established leadership.

In an audio statement posted on the Internet, the spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria announced the restoration of the 7th-century Islamic caliphate, a long-declared goal of al-Qaida renegades who broke with the mainstream organization early this year and have since asserted control over large areas spanning the two countries.

The move signifies "a new era of international jihad," said the spokesman, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, who also declared an end to ISIS, as the group had called itself. Henceforth, ISIS will simply be known as the Islamic State, in recognition of the breakdown of international borders achieved as a result of the group's conquests, he said. ISIS's chief, an Iraqi known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, will be the caliph, or leader, of the new caliphate, and all Muslims worldwide will be required to pay allegiance to him.

The proclamation is a powerful challenge to al-Qaida's chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri, who also claims supremacy over the global jihadist movement. Al-Zawahiri repudiated al-Baghdadi early this year after the Iraqi leader rejected repeated al-Qaida directives to adopt a more inclusive approach toward other jihadist groups, and it is unlikely that al-Zawahiri will agree to bow to the authority of the proclaimed new caliph.

"This is a threat to the legitimacy of al-Qaida as the representative of global jihad, and it lays down the threat big time," said Charles Lister of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. "Put simply, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has declared war on al-Qaida."

The state will cover lands now under Islamic State control, stretching from the northern Syrian province of Aleppo to the eastern Iraqi province of Diyala, the statement said, adding that eventually it will grow to include the entire Muslim world.

The militants have already asserted a de facto Islamic state in those areas, establishing their own courts, schools and services. The effort has received a big boost in the past three weeks from the vast quantities of weaponry the militants have taken from Iraqi army bases and the millions of dollars they have seized from banks in the towns and cities they have overrun.

On Sunday, the militants said they had repelled an Iraqi government counteroffensive against the city of Tikrit, which fell under the control of the militants more than two weeks ago.

Residents said the insurgents, who have been assisted by local antigovernment groups, were still in control of the town center, despite state TV claims that the government had cleared Tikrit of militants Saturday.

Government forces pounded the city Sunday with helicopter fire and artillery, residents said.

The government received a boost in its battle with the militants with the arrival in Baghdad late Saturday of five Sukhoi 25 warplanes purchased secondhand from Russia. The aircraft is designed to provide close air support to ground forces and to destroy mobile targets.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Iraqi and Russian technicians unload a Russian-made Sukhoi 25 warplane at al-Muthanna air base in Baghdad on Saturday.

Associated Press

Iraqi and Russian technicians unload a Russian-made Sukhoi 25 warplane at al-Muthanna air base in Baghdad on Saturday.

Militants declare captured territory in Iraq and Syria an Islamic state 06/29/14 [Last modified: Monday, June 30, 2014 1:08am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Winner and loser of the week in Florida politics

    Blogs
  2. Jones: Bucs need success to get national respect

    Bucs

    Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones offers up his Two Cents on the world of sports.

    No respect

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter walks the field during the second day of mandatory minicamp at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  3. Hopes fade after landslide destroys Chinese village (w/video)

    World

    Crews searching through the night in the rubble left by a landslide that buried a mountain village under tons of soil and rocks in southwestern China found 15 bodies, but more than 110 more people remained missing.

    Vehicles and people line a road leading to the site of a landslide in Xinmo village in Mao County on Saturday in southwestern China’s Sichuan Province. More than 100 people remained missing after the village was buried under tons of rocks and soil.
  4. Rookie Jake Faria dissatisfied with performance in Rays' loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The rookie pitcher walked to his locker Saturday after tossing the fourth quality start in as many tries to begin his career. He held the potent Orioles bats to three runs and for six innings gave his team a chance to win.

    Orioles third baseman Manny Machado tags out the Rays’ Mallex Smith at third after a rundown in the first inning.
  5. Thousands converge in two St. Pete locations celebrating LGBT rights

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — Tom Rockhill didn't know what to expect Saturday, but by noon people were knocking on the door of his bar Right Around the Corner in Grand Central.

    (From left to right) Emma Chalut 18, gets a rainbow sticker on her cheek from her sister Ellie, 15 both of Jacksonville before the annual St. Pete Pride parade in downtown St. Petersburg on Saturday. This year the route was changed from the Grand Central and Kenwood area to Bayshore Drive.
[EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times]