Boko Haram pledges allegiance to IS
BEIRUT: Unidentified gunmen attacked Islamic State militants in the eastern Syrian town of al-Mayadin overnight, killing more than 12, the latest in a series of guerrilla attacks on the ultra-hardline group in areas it controls near the Iraqi border.
The attacks in Deir al-Zor province were carried out by two separate groups of gunmen, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Islamic State, which seized nearly all of Deir al-Zor province last year, has faced a wave of hit-and-run attacks by unidentified gunmen in the area.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. Syrian state media attributed similar attacks in January to “popular resistance” to Islamic State, which has brutally suppressed any opposition to its control.
The first group of assailants opened fire on an Islamic State patrol, killing 12 gunmen, before attacking Islamic State members who were guarding a courthouse. They were riding at least two motor bikes.
A second group of gunmen meanwhile attacked an Islamic State checkpoint in the same town, killing and injuring an unknown
number of the Islamic State militants, the Observatory reported. Al-Mayadin is located about 60 km (40 miles) from the border with Iraq. While it has lost control of most of Deir al-Zor province to Islamic State, the Syrian government still controls part of the Deir al-Zor city.
A U.S.-led alliance seeking to roll back the group in both Syria and Iraq has dismissed the idea of partnering with President Bashar al-Assad in the fight against Islamic State, seeing him as part of the problem.
The Syrian military said on Saturday it had killed a leading member of Islamic State in an air strike in Hama province in central Syria. The Observatory said two commanders and 26 Islamic State militants had been killed in that attack.
LAGOS: Boko Haram has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group, after repeated indications that it was seeking a formal tie-up and a series of Nigerian military successes against the rebels.
The Nigerian group´s leader Abubakar Shekau made the announcement in an audio message on Saturday night, describing it as a religious duty and saying it would “enrage the enemy of Allah”.
The declaration raises the possibility that Western powers, which have so far stayed out of direct military operations in northeast Nigeria, might be pulled into the conflict, which has left more than 13,000 people dead since 2009 but largely been seen as a “local” or regional issue.
“Operating as an IS proxy could draw Western efforts against its operations, particularly from France, which already runs a multi-country anti-terrorist campaign in the west and central African region,” said Ryan Cummings, from risk consultants Red24.
Extremists from Libya to Pakistan have previously pledged support or allegiance to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi while the group itself last month expanded its reach into lawless Libya.