The al-Qaida breakaway group that has seized much of northern Syria and huge tracks of neighboring Iraq has formally declared the creation of an Islamic state in the territory under its control.
The spokesman for the group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, made the announcement in an audio statement posted online Sunday.
Abu Mohammed al-Adnani said the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is the leader of the new caliphate — a term used to describe a medieval Islamic state. Al-Adnani called on those living in the area under the group’s control to swear allegiance to al-Baghdadi.
Islamic extremists have long dreamed of recreating the Islamic caliphate that ruled over the Middle East for hundreds of years.
It was unclear what immediate practical impact the declaration would have on the ground in Syria and Iraq, or among the jihadi community.