Al-Qaida Leader Urges Fighters to Prepare for Prolonged Jihad in Syria

In an audio message, Ayman al-Zawahri tells the jihadists to remain steadfast and change tactics to a guerrilla war.

In this frame provided on Tuesday March 21, 2017, fighters from Ahrar al-Sham militant group fire during a battle against the Syrian government forces, in an eastern neighborhood of Damascus, Syria.
AP, Ahrar al-Sham

Al-Qaida's leader has urged his followers and all militants in Syria to unite ranks and prepare for protracted jihad, or holy war.

Ayman al-Zawahri tells the jihadists to remain steadfast and change tactics to a guerrilla war. His remarks came in an audio message released on Monday by Al-Qaida's media arm As-Sahab.

Al-Zawahri says an "international satanic alliance" will never accept Islam's rule in Syria. He says the war isn't an exclusively nationalist Syrian cause but a campaign by the entire Muslim nation that seeks to establish divine rule.

Al-Qaida's Syria branch — formerly the Nusra Front but now known as the Fatah al-Sham Front — has come under increasing attack from the U.S.-led coalition in recent months and some of its most senior leaders have been killed in airstrikes.