The Iraqi wing of Al-Qaeda has said for the first time that a rebel group at the forefront of the rebellion in Syria is part of its network.
The leader of the Islamic State in Iraq, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, said his group and Syria's Al-Nusra Front would now be called the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
His comments were made in an audio message posted on April 8 on jihadist forums monitored by the U.S.-based SITE intelligence group.
The authenticity of the statement could not be immediately verified.
The Al-Nusra Front has joined other rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's forces in Syria.
Its affiliation with Al-Qaeda has long been suspected, and the United States designated the group a terrorist organization in December.
Based on reporting by Reuters and AFP