ISIS declare new ‘caliphate’; Syrian rebels resist

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) on June 29 announced the establishment of a "caliphate," and  declared its own chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to be the caliph and "leader for Muslims everywhere." Said ISIS spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani: "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… The jihadist cleric Baghdadi was designated the caliph of the Muslims." The statement said the group is to be henceforth known simply the Islamic State. "The words 'Iraq' and 'the Levant' have been removed from the name of the Islamic State in official papers and documents," Adnani said, describing the caliphate as "the dream in all the Muslims' hearts" and "the hope of all jihadists." (Al Arabiya, June 29)

The Free Syrian Army (FSA) meanwhile continued its military offensive to drive ISIS forces from Syria's eastern city of al-Bukamal (also rendered Albu Kamal) near the border with Iraq. Islamist forces including the Nusra Front are also said to be engaged in the battle for the town, pointing to confused multi-sided fighting. (Al Arabiya, June 28)

Zahran Alloush, leader of Syria's rebel "Islam Army" (possibly linked to the Islamic Front), issued a statement calling ISIS "an enemy of the nation and the revolution," and a "criminal faction connected to the Iranian and Syrian intelligences." The statement accused ISIS of adhering to the "Khawarij interpretation of Islam," a reference to the medieval Kharijite heresy. (Islam Army, June 28) Amid clashes in Aleppo governorate, ISIS reportedly publicly crucified eight captured rebels from the rival Army of Islam.  (Daily Star, Lebanon, June 29)