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Apr 18, 6:23 AM EDT

Al-Qaida splinter group lashes out over Syria

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CAIRO (AP) -- The spokesman of an al-Qaida breakaway group has slammed the terror network's chief, blaming him for the widening rift between rival Islamic rebels who are battling each other in Syria.

The spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, accused al-Qaida's top leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, of "deviating from the right approach" and betraying the cause of jihad, or holy war.

Al-Adnani spoke in an audio message posted on militant websites late Thursday.

Since January, the Islamic State has been engaged in fierce fighting against the al-Qaida affiliate Nusra Front in Syria. Thousands of fighters have been killed in the infighting.

The fighting intensified after al-Zawahri stepped into the rivalry. ISIL rejected his orders that the Nusra Front take the lead among Islamic fighters in Syria.

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