Al-Qaeda has formally cut ties with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a radicalist group fighting against Assad's regime, following months of feuding between the two groups. Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's leader, denounced ISIS after being unable to reconcile a conflict between them and the al-Nusra Front, another al-Qaeda arm in the region.
ISIS expanded from Iraq into Syria against Zawahiri's wishes. They refused his orders to withdraw from the country. In May, Zawahiri balked at a deal to merge the two groups. ISIS's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi reportedly said around that time, "I have to choose between the rule of God and the rule of al-Zawahiri, and I choose the rule of God." Between the two al-Qaeda is the more moderate group.
The disassociation has a few consequences. It leaves al-Qaeda without any official presence in Iraq and makes al-Nusra the only representative of al-Qaeda in Syria. One official told The Washington Post, however, that ISIS and its estimated 10,000 members were never particularly reliant on al-Qaeda for their core needs, and so whether the decision will significantly weaken ISIS is unclear. Regardless, both organizations are still terrorist organizations.