Nusra Front leader Mohammed al-Golani undated photo released online on Thursday, July 28, 2016 to announce a video message that the militant group is changing name, and claims it will have no more ties with al-Qaida. (militant photo via AP)
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The leader of Syria's Nusra Front said in recording aired Thursday that his group is changing its name, claiming it will have no more ties with Al-Qaeda in an attempt to undermine a potential U.S. and Russian air campaign against its fighters.White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Thursday the U.S. continues to assess that Nusra leaders intend to attack the West and said the U.S.-led military campaign is focused on a number of extremist groups, including Nusra and Daesh (ISIS).Those factions may then oppose international airstrikes against Nusra fighters, arguing that they are now simply fellow rebels against President Bashar Assad, not an Al-Qaeda affiliate.Golani said the delinking from Al-Qaeda aimed to remove "pretexts" by the U.S. and Russia to strike other rebel groups while claiming they are targeting Nusra.Nusra, for example, has been seeking an alliance with the powerful hard-line Islamist rebel faction Ahrar al-Sham.
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