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Published: Saturday June 21, 2014 MYT 2:25:02 AM
Updated: Saturday June 21, 2014 MYT 2:25:58 AM

Foreign Islamist fighters urge Muslims to join jihad in Syria and Iraq

DUBAI (Reuters) - Five Islamist fighters identified as Australian and British nationals have called on Muslims to join the wars in Syria and Iraq, in a new video released by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

The online footage, titled "There is No Life Without Jihad", showed the five militants sitting in a rural area and holding rifles with al Qaeda's black flag flying behind them.

They called on Muslims to join ISIL in jihad, or holy war. A song in the background urged "the lions of God to travel to the land of Sham (Syria) and the Euphrates (Iraq)”.

"We are a State who is implementing the sharia (Islamic law) in both Iraq and Sham (Syria), and look at the soldiers - we understand no borders," one fighter said in English. A caption said he was Abu Muthanna al-Yemeni from Britain.

"We have participated in battles in Sham, and we will go to Iraq in a few days, and we will fight there, Allah permitting, and come back, and we will even go to Jordan and Lebanon, with no problems," he said, adding that the best land for jihad was Syria.

The other militants were identified as Abu Bara' al-Hindi and Abu Dujana al-Hindi, also from Britain, and Abu Yahya al-Shami and Abu Nour al-Iraqi, both from Australia. A caption said Abu Yahya had been killed fighting in Syria.

With stunning speed, ISIL, an offshoot of al Qaeda, has captured swathes of territory in northwest and central Iraq, including the second city of Mosul, seizing large amounts of weaponry from the fleeing Iraqi army and looting banks.

President Barack Obama has offered up to 300 Americans to help coordinate the Baghdad government's battle against the Sunni insurgent group.

ISIL, which is also fighting in neighbouring Syria, includes thousands of foreign fighters and has become a magnet for jihadi volunteers from Europe and North Africa, Western intelligence agencies say.

Earlier this month, nine European countries endorsed plans to step up intelligence-sharing and take down radical websites to try to stop European citizens going to fight in Syria and bringing violence back home with them.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday that Sunni Islamist insurgents fighting in Iraq were planning to attack Britain and that "ungoverned spaces" where militants thrived had to be shut down.

(Reporting by Rania El Gamal; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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