Al Qaeda Chief Disowns Militant Group in Syria

b_250_0_16777215_00_images_obgrabber_2014-02_ae1fbf3f08.jpgcreisinger/Thinkstock (NEW YORK) -- The Syrian conflict has exposed a major rift between al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. Last year, Zawahri ordered the ISIS to exit Syria so that its main al Qaeda group there, the Nusra Front, could do the bulk of the fighting for the terrorist group. However, the ISIS defied the al Qaeda head, leading Zawahri to cut ties this week with the renegade militant fighters.

It's expected that ISIS will continue in its efforts to overthrow the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but without the blessings of the central al Qaeda organization, which has seen its clout diminish with the rise of independent Islamist groups.

Meanwhile, the break between Zawahri and the ISIS does not alleviate U.S. concerns of the growing al Qaeda influence in Syria that further complicates efforts to end the three-year-long conflict.

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