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Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant

Syria fighters hail declaration of Islamic ‘caliphate’

BEIRUT: Militant Islamist fighters held a parade in Syria's northern Raqqa province to celebrate their declaration of an Islamic "caliphate" after the group captured territory in neighboring Iraq, a monitoring service said. The Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot previously known as Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), posted pictures online on Sunday of people waving black flags from cars and holding guns in the air, the SITE monitoring service said. The Islamic State says it wants to erase national boundaries…

Syrian Qaeda wing pledges allegiance to ISIL in border town

BEIRUT: Syria's al Qaeda wing has pledged allegiance to rival group the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in a Syrian border town, a monitoring group said, strengthening ISIL's control of both sides of the Syria-Iraq frontier. Fighters from Nusra Front, the Syrian wing of al Qaeda, took an oath of loyalty to ISIL in the town of Albu Kamal, close to the Iraqi border, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and an Islamist website said on Wednesday. The central leadership of al Qaeda has disowned ISIL…

Insurgents take two more Iraqi towns, Obama threatens air strikes

BAGHDAD: Sunni Islamist militants gained more ground in Iraq overnight, moving into two towns in the eastern province of Diyala, while U.S. President Barack Obama considered military strikes to halt their advance towards the capital Baghdad. After security forces abandoned their posts, security sources said the towns of Saadiyah and Jalawla had fallen to the insurgents, along with several villages around the Himreen mountains, which have long been a hideout for militants. Militants from the Islamic State in Iraq and the…

Gunmen occupy Iraqi university campus, take students hostage

RAMADI: Gunmen occupied a university in Iraq's western province of Anbar on Saturday, taking hundreds of students and their professors hostage inside the campus, security sources said. After fighting their way past the guards, the militants managed to break into Anbar University in the provincial capital Ramadi overnight and planted bombs behind them to prevent security forces from advancing. Security forces surrounded the university and exchanged fire with militants patrolling the rooftops with sniper rifles. Sources in…