Damascus: The Islamic State (IS) militant group on Tuesday called for a jihad against Russia and the US for their “crusader’s war” in the Middle East.
In an audio message, the group’s spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said, “Oh Muslim youth everywhere come on for jihad against the Russians and Americans, because it’s a crusader war against the Muslims; the war of the atheists and idolaters against the believers,” Xinhua reported.
The message came just a day after the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front called for attacks against Russia.
Leader of Nusra Front Abu Muhammad al-Jolani urged the extremists in the Caucasus to “kill the Russians” in retaliation to the Russian airstrikes in Syria.
Al-Jolani urged all of the jihadi factions on ground to stop their infighting and “postpone the differences until the break of the crusader Western and Russian war on the Levant land (Syria)”.
The Russian air strikes started in Syria on September 30, targeting the positions of the Nusra Front and the IS among other terror groups in the war-torn country.
The strikes have raised the ire of the Syrian rebels, as several rebel groups called on regional countries to form an alliance against the Russian-led coalition, according to a statement released last week.
In the statement, over 41 rebel groups, including the powerful Ahrar al-Sham Movement, deemed the Russian military intervention in Syria as an “occupation”, and urged regional countries to form a coalition in order to face the Russian-led group which also includes Iran, Iraq and Syria.
The statement reflected the rebel groups’ resentment, who are on the receiving end of a strong pounding by Russian air strikes.
The Syrian wing of the banned Muslim Brotherhood also issued a statement, calling on the Syrians to wage jihad against what they called the “flagrant Russian occupation of Syria”.
U.S. President Donald Trump says he has been fully briefed on an audio recording of the killing of dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside Riyadh’s consulate in Istanbul last month, but has no intention of listening to it because of the violence it depicts.
“It’s a suffering tape. It’s a terrible tape,” Trump told Fox News Sunday in a White House interview that was taped Friday.
“It’s very violent, very vicious and terrible,” Trump said.
Trump said Saturday the U.S. government would release its findings on the October 2 killing of Khashoggi on Tuesday. The State Department says no final conclusions have been reached, although some U.S. news accounts have reported that the Central Intelligence Agency has concluded that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Riyadh’s de facto leader, ordered the killing.
Asked in the Fox interview if the crown prince lied to him about his involvement, Trump replied, “I don’t know. Who can really know? But I can say this, he’s got many people… that say he had no knowledge.”
Trump added, “He told me that he had nothing to do with it. He told me that, I would say, maybe five times at different points, as recently as a few days ago.”
Saudi Arabia has filed charges against 11 operatives accused of involvement in Khashoggi’s killing and said it will seek the death penalty against five of them.
Trump conceded that people close to the prince “were probably involved.” But he said, “I want to stick with an ally that in many ways has been very good.”
Fox interviewer Chris Wallace asked Trump whether he would go along with moves in Congress to cut off U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen or halt arms sales to Riyadh, but Trump said it depends.
“I want to see Yemen end,” he said. “It takes two to tango and Iran has to end also. I want Saudi to stop but I want Iran to stop also.”
Trump was briefed Saturday on the U.S. investigation of the killing of Khashoggi by telephone by CIA Director Gina Haspel and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo while the president was aboard Air Force One en route to California to inspect the devastation from wildfires in the western state.
The State Department said the U.S. government “is determined to hold all those responsible for the killing… accountable” but that “numerous unanswered questions” remain.
The assessment by the CIA, first reported Friday by The Washington Post, contradicts that of Saudi Arabia, whose top prosecutor one day earlier exonerated the crown prince in the killing of Khashoggi.
U.S. officials say the CIA concluded that 15 Saudi agents flew in a Saudi government aircraft to Istanbul and assassinated Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate.
Khashoggi, who wrote opinion columns for the Post and was a critic of the Saudi crown prince, was killed at the Saudi consulate while he was trying to get documents for his planned marriage to a Turkish woman.
The Post said the CIA based its conclusion on multiple sources of intelligence, including a phone call that the prince’s brother, Khalid bin Salman, who is also the Saudi ambassador to the United States, had with Khashoggi.
In the phone call, Khalid told Khashoggi that it would be safe for him to go the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to retrieve the documents for his marriage. The paper said it was not known whether or not Khalid knew Khashoggi would be killed.
Khalid denied in a tweet on Friday that he had spoken with Khashoggi.
“The last contact I had with Mr. Khashoggi was via text on Oct. 26, 2017. I never talked to him by phone and certainly never suggested he go to Turkey for any reason. I ask the U.S. government to release any information regarding this claim,” he said. (VOA)