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ISIS militants declare Islamic ‘Caliphate’ in Iraq and Syria

The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS or ISIL), a Sunni jihadist group, on Sunday declared the establishment of a “Caliphate” or Islamic state, spanning parts of both Iraq and Syria with the group’s leader as the ruling “Caliph”.

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The group, known for its ruthless tactics and systemic abuses during its involvement in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria where it has captured vast swathes of territory, also announced it was renaming itself the “Islamic State” and called on jihadi factions worldwide to pledge allegiance to it.

The Caliphate would be imposed on areas the group controls in Iraq and Syria with its chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as the Caliph, or head of state, and “leader for Muslims everywhere”, ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani said in an audio recording distributed online.

“The Shura (council) of the Islamic State met and discussed this issue (of the Caliphate)... The Islamic State decided to establish an Islamic Caliphate and to designate a Caliph for the state of the Muslims,” he said.

“The jihadist cleric Baghdadi was designated the Caliph of the Muslims,” said Adnani, adding that the Caliphate will extend “from Aleppo (in northern Syria) to Diyala” in Iraq.

The part of the group’s name referring to Iraq and Syria has been removed in official papers and documents, Adnani said, describing the Caliphate as “the dream in all the Muslims’ hearts” and “the hope of all jihadists”.

He demanded that “all Muslims pledge allegiance to the Caliph".

Ever since the Prophet Mohammed’s death, a Caliph was designated “the prince” or emir “of the believers”.

After the first four Caliphs who succeeded Mohammed, the Caliphate lived its golden age in the Omayyad empire from the year 661 to 750, and then under the Abbasids, from 750 to 1517.

It was abolished when the Ottoman empire collapsed in 1924.

Fighters from ISIS overran the Iraqi city of Mosul last month and have advanced towards Baghdad. In Syria they have captured territory in the north and east, along the frontier with Iraq.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

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