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Al-Qaida leader tells fighters to prepare for long Syria war

  • FILE - In this 1998 file photo, Ayman al-Zawahri poses for a photograph in Khost, Afghanistan. Al-Qaida's leader, al-Zawahri, has urged his followers and all militants in Syria to unite ranks and prepare for protracted jihad, or holy war. Al-Zawahri told the jihadis in an audio message released by al-Qaida's media arm As-Sahab, to remain steadfast and change tactics to a guerrilla war. (AP Photo/Mazhar Ali Khan, File)

    FILE - In this 1998 file photo, Ayman al-Zawahri poses for a photograph in Khost, Afghanistan. Al-Qaida's leader, al-Zawahri, has urged his followers and all militants in Syria to unite ranks and prepare for protracted jihad, or holy war. Al-Zawahri told the jihadis in an audio message released by al-Qaida's media arm As-Sahab, to remain steadfast and change tactics to a guerrilla war. (AP Photo/Mazhar Ali Khan, File)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian opposition fighters hold their weapons as they prepare to board a bus to leave the last rebel-held neighborhood of al-Waer in Homs province, Syria, Monday, April 24, 2017. (SANA via AP)

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian opposition fighters hold their weapons as they prepare to board a bus to leave the last rebel-held neighborhood of al-Waer in Homs province, Syria, Monday, April 24, 2017. (SANA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian opposition fighters head to a bus with their families as they leave the last rebel-held neighborhood of al-Waer in Homs province, Syria, Monday, April 24, 2017. (SANA via AP)

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian opposition fighters head to a bus with their families as they leave the last rebel-held neighborhood of al-Waer in Homs province, Syria, Monday, April 24, 2017. (SANA via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Al-Qaida's leader has urged his followers and all militants in Syria to unite ranks and prepare for protracted jihad, or holy war.

Ayman al-Zawahri tells the jihadis to remain steadfast and change tactics to a guerrilla war. His remarks came in an audio message released on Monday by al-Qaida's media arm As-Sahab.

Al-Zawahri says an "international satanic alliance" will never accept Islam's rule in Syria. He says the war isn't an exclusively nationalist Syrian cause but a campaign by the entire Muslim nation that seeks to establish divine rule.

Al-Qaida's Syria branch — formerly the Nusra Front but now known as the Fatah al-Sham Front — has come under increasing attack from the U.S.-led coalition in recent months and some of its most senior leaders have been killed in airstrikes.