Profile: Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant

Al-Qaeda offshoot is seeing its influence rapidly grow as its seeks to establish an Islamic caliphate.

    The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, (ISIL), is an armed group active in Iraq and Syria seeking to establish an Islamic caliphate.

    With thousands of Arab and foreign fighters under its wing, it has emerged as one of the most powerful such groups in the region.

    An off-shoot of al-Qaeda, the group has attacked rivals and killed hundreds for violating its strict interpretation of Islam.

    Despite the Iraqi army's efforts to dislodge the fighters, the group controls parts of two of Iraq's biggest cities in Anbar province, most of Mosul and several neighbourhoods in Kirkuk province.

    ISIL also controls parts of northern Syria, including their stronghold city of Raqqa, and are fighting rivals Al Nusra, for the oil-rich city of Deir az Zor.

    Some suggest it relies on hefty donations by individual sympathizers while others claim it has strong backing by regional states and their intelligence services.

    ISIL's real goals and backers remain unknown, but their attacks have now caught the world's attention.

    Al Jazeera's Omar Al Saleh reports.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Interactive: Take a tour through divided Jerusalem

    Take a tour through East and West Jerusalem to see the difference in quality of life for Israelis and Palestinians.

    Stories from the sex trade

    Stories from the sex trade

    Dutch sex workers, pimps and johns share their stories.

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    Inside the world of India's booming fertility industry

    As the stigma associated with being childless persists, some elderly women in India risk it all to become mothers.