Al-Qaida leader calls on Sunnis to fight in Syria

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This Wednesday, June 5, 2013 citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center AMC which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, show damaged buildings during battles between the rebels and the Syrian government forces, in Aleppo, Syria. An Austrian defense ministry official says Syrian rebels have captured a crossing point along a ceasefire line patrolled by U.N. troops between Syria and Israel. (AP Photo/Aleppo Media Center AMC)

BEIRUT (AP) — Al-Qaida's leader has urged Sunni Muslims to spare no effort to join the battle in Syria, overthrow President Bashar Assad and set up Islamic rule in the country.

Ayman al-Zawahri called on Sunnis everywhere to devote their lives, money and expertise for the fight and prevent a U.S.-allied government from taking over in post-Assad Syria.

He urged Sunnis to "rise above their differences" and fight expanding Shiite influence in Syria.

The message came in a new audio recording posted on Thursday on the Internet. Its authenticity could not be independently confirmed but the message was posted on a militant website commonly used by al-Qaida.

Al-Zawahri has repeatedly called for holy war in Syria and has blasted Lebanese Hezbollah militants and Iran for supporting Assad.