A fighter of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) holds an ISIL flag and a weapon on a street in the city of Mosul in this June 23, 2014.REUTERS/Stringer
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The formal declaration of an Islamic caliphate across the stretch of territory controlled by ISIS in Syria and Iraq sparked celebrations among the group's followers Monday but condemnation and ridicule from its rivals and authorities in Baghdad and Damascus.Those Sunnis, including former officers in the military of ousted dictator Saddam Hussein, have backed ISIS in hopes of bringing down Iraq's Shiite-led government but not necessarily its ambitions of carving out a transnational caliphate.Through brute force and meticulous planning, the Sunni extremist group – which said it was changing its name to just the Islamic State, dropping the mention of Iraq and Greater Syria – has carved out a large chunk of territory that has effectively erased the border between Iraq and Syria and laid the foundations of its proto-state. Aymenn al-Tamimi, an analyst who specializes in Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria, said he expects some of those allies could be disillusioned by the declaration.The Iraqi government, which has long tried portray the broader Sunni insurgency it faces as solely a terrorist threat, pointed to ISIS' declaration to back up its claims.
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