Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri urged Sunni Muslims to unite and join the battle in Syria to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad and prevent a US allied government from taking the lead in a post-Assad Syria.
According to The Associated Press, Zawahri called Sunnis everywhere to dedicate their lives, money and expertise for the fight against Assad’s regime.
He has blasted Lebanese Hezbollah Shiite militants and Iran for supporting Assad, AP said
Zawahri also called on Sunnis to “rise above their differences” and fight the expanding Shiite influence in Syria, AP added.
“America, its agents and allies want you to shed your blood and the blood of your children and women to bring down the criminal Baathist regime, and then set up a government loyal to them and to safeguard Israel's security,” he said as quoted by Reuters.
The message came in a 22-minute recording posted Thursday on a website commonly used by al-Qaida, Reuters said.
Zawahri, an Egyptian-born preacher, became al-Qaeda’s chief after Osama bin Laden’s death in 2011 in a U.S. operation. His last audio message dates to April, when he also urged Muslims to create a state governed by Islamic rule, Reuters reported.
The news comes a week after prominent Sunni Muslim cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi on Saturday called for jihad in Syria as he lashed out at Shiite group Hezbollah for sending its men to fight in the war torn country.