Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the leader of ISIS. In April, he announced his group was taking over the other high-profile jihadist group in Syria, al-Nusra. But Al-Qaeda's current leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, rejected the move. (Via Foreign Policy, Al-Alam)
SETH JONES, RAND CORPORATION: "This must keep Ayman al-Zawahri up in his bed at night in Pakistan. This is a very, very serious challenge to his authority and a very serious challenge to the future of the organization he has spent so much time trying to build." (Via CNN)
Critics of ISIS have accused it of being more interested in setting up its own emirate inside Syria than fighting the regime of Bashar-al Assad. And it's taken a lot of heat for killing fellow rebels and alienating the local population. (Via Aleppo Media Centre)
Some analysts say Al-Qaeda's decision to cut ties could reduce the infighting among the various rebel groups inside Syria. That infighting escalated recently at the expense of fighting the Assad regime.
As The Wall Street Journal explains, "The deepening rifts among rebels, in the short run, could further bolster the president's forces. However, if the opposition eventually succeeds in expelling ISIS ... it could strengthen support for the rebels."
The rebel infighting has dramatically increased the bloodshed in Syria's civil war. So far, the conflict has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people and forced more than 2 million Syrians to leave their homes.
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