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New al-Qaida chief lauds Syrian protesters

By BEN HUBBARD/Associated Press
July 27, 2011 at 2:27 a.m.
Updated July 29, 2011 at 2:29 a.m.


CAIRO (AP) - Al-Qaida's new leader has lauded protesters in Syria for seeking to topple the regime of President Bashar Assad.

In a video message posted on extremist websites Wednesday, Ayman al-Zawahri also alleges that Washington seeks to replace Assad with a leader who protects American and Israeli interests.

Al-Zawahri was named al-Qaida's new leader after U.S. commandos killed Osama bin Laden in a raid in Pakistan on May 2.

He seeks to portray the Syrian uprising as an Islamic battle against Western interests in the Middle East. Syrian activists say religion has played little role in their uprising to topple Assad.

Al-Qaida has previously tried to associate itself with the protesters that ousted autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt.

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