Last updated: 26 June, 2014

ISIL deploys in Syria border town

Jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant bolstered their presence Thursday in the Syrian town of Albu Kamal on the border with Iraq, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the move came a day after members in the town of Al-Qaeda’s franchise in Syria, Al-Nusra Front, pledged loyalty to ISIL, giving it control over both sides of the frontier.

ISIL, which aspires to create an Islamic state that straddles Iraq and Syria, has spearheaded a lightning jihadist offensive that has already captured swathes of territory north and west of Baghdad.

Pro-ISIL militants posted videos on YouTube showing a convoy of cars and trucks entering Albu Kamal and flying the jihadists’ black flag.

Other supporters announced the reinforcement on Twitter, with one saying: “ISIL convoys enter Albu Kamal after conquering it, thanks to Allah.”

A statement from Al-Nusra released in the town said the Al-Qaeda franchise pledged loyalty to ISIL in Albu Kamal to prevent bloodshed between the two rival jihadist groups.

Albu Kamal is located in Syria’s oil-rich eastern province of Deir Ezzor, where ISIL and Al-Nusra, who have been fighting to topple the Syrian regime, have also been fighting each other since January.

Romain Caillet, an expert on Islamists groups, said Al-Nusra fighters pledged allegiance to ISIL in the border town because “it is powerful, they fear it and they have been weakened on the ground”.