A rebel fighter prays moments before heading into battle in Maaret al-Numan, Syria, on Monday, October 7.
BEIRUT (AP) - The head of an al-Qaida-linked group in Syria has called on other rebel factions to end their attacks on his fighters and instead to unite against the government and its allies.
In a new audio message, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi accuses rival opposition brigades of stabbing his group in the back. But he also calls for reconciliation, saying the Islamic State "is extending its hand so that we refrain from attacking each other and so that we can join forces" against the government and its Shiite Muslim allies.
The Islamic State has been engaged in a bitter battle across northern Syria with an array of ultraconservative and more moderate rebel brigades since Jan. 3. Activists say the rebel infighting has killed more than 1,000 people.
The message's authenticity could not be independently confirmed, but the audio was posted Sunday on a website commonly used by Islamic militants.
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