Ayman al-Zawahiri
Ayman al-ZawahiriReuters

Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri has told rival jihadists in Syria to accept independent Islamic arbitration to end three months of infighting, saying in an audio message Friday the violence is "sedition", according to AFP.

Powerful jihadist rebel groups in Syria, including the Islamic Front and Al-Qaeda's affiliate Al-Nusra Front, have been locked in fierce fighting with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) since January.

The fighting broke out after allegations that ISIS brutally abused civilians and other opposition fighters battling to topple the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

Tensions were further exacerbated when Al-Nusra and other rebel factions accused ISIS of killing Islamic Front commander Abu Khaled al-Suri in a suicide car bomb attack in February.

Abu Khaled was appointed last year as Zawahiri's representative in Syria and was once close to now slain Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden.

Zawahiri eulogized him in the audio statement posted on the Internet by jihadist groups, saying his death was the result of "sedition" under way in Syria.

He called on "every Muslim and mujahid (jihadist)" to confront sedition and "accept independent sharia arbitration", or the ruling of an Islamic court, to end rebel infighting in Syria, reported AFP.

Jihadists "must disavow anyone who refuses (such) arbitration" and should not take part in the killing of fellow Islamist fighters, he added.

Al-Nusra Front chief Abu Mohammed al-Jolani has accused ISIS of murdering Abu Khaled and warned the group he would fight it inside Syria and Iraq, where ISIS has its base, unless it accepts Islamic arbitration.

Zawahiri called on the jihadists to stop the infighting when clashes first erupted in January.

This is the second time that he has called for the end of the rebel infighting. In late January, Zawahiri issued a similar message, in which he urged all jihadist groups and “every free person in Syria seeking to overthrow Al-Assad... to seek an end to fighting between brothers in jihad and Islam immediately.”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)