- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 13, 2014

A prominent Syrian official and a rebel commander say the Islamic State group and al Qaeda have put aside their differences and vowed to work together in Syria.

Delegates from the two terror groups met Nov. 2 and reached the accord, The Associated Press reported Thursday. The individuals spoke on condition on anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the agreement.

News of the agreement comes on the same day that the Islamic State group released audio purportedly by its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“We announce to you the expansion of the Islamic State to new countries, to the countries of the Haramayn, Yemen, Egypt, Libya, Algeria. … Oh soldiers of the Islamic State … erupt volcanoes of jihad everywhere,” the terror leader says in the 17-minute audio tape.

U.S. officials have not yet determined the authenticity of audio.

The pact between the Islamic State group and al Qaeda will complicate the U.S.-led coalition’s military operations in Syria.

SEE ALSO: Islamic State releases Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi audio: ‘Erupt volcanoes of jihad everywhere’

Rear Adm. John Kirby told CNN on Wednesday that the White House’s plan to train and arm moderate Syrian rebels has not started with over for months of preparation.

“The vetting hasn’t started. Once it does start, that will be about a three- to five-month process and then it’s about eight to nine months of training after that. So we still got a ways to go,” Adm. Kirby said.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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