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Originally published September 19, 2013 at 6:43 AM | Page modified September 20, 2013 at 1:15 AM

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Syrian opposition slams al-Qaida-linked militants

Syria's main Western-backed opposition group has slammed al-Qaida-linked gunmen and their expanding influence in the country, saying the jihadis seek to establish an Islamic state in Syria.

The Associated Press

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BEIRUT —

Syria's main Western-backed opposition group has slammed al-Qaida-linked gunmen and their expanding influence in the country, saying the jihadis seek to establish an Islamic state in Syria.

A statement on Friday from the Syrian National Coalition follows days of vicious infighting in which the extremists seized control of the northern town of Azaz from mainstream opposition fighters.

The SNC says the actions of the al-Qaida-linked fighters "counter the principals that the Syrian revolution is trying to achieve."

The group also warns that the Islamic fighters are "strengthening their positions" in opposition-controlled areas.

The infighting threatens to further split opposition forces outgunned by President Bashar Assad's troops and strengthen his hand as he engages with world powers on relinquishing his chemical weapons.

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