BAGHDAD (TheBlaze/AP) — The Al Qaeda breakaway group that has seized huge tracts of Iraq and much of neighboring northern Syria has named the leader of the new caliphate and formally declared the creation of an Islamic state in the territory under its control.

The spokesman for the group, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, made the announcement in an audio statement posted online Sunday.

FILE – This file image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, appears to show militants from the al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) with captured Iraqi soldiers wearing plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. Human Rights Watch released a report Friday, June 27, 2014 that based on analysis of the photos and satellite imagery, the militants killed between 160 to 190 men in two locations in Tikrit between June 11 and June 14. (Image source: AP via militant website, File)

Abu Mohammed al-Adnani said the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is the head of the new caliphate — a term used to describe a medieval Islamic state. Al-Adnani called on those living in the area under the group’s control to swear allegiance to al-Baghdadi.

FILE – Undated file picture from the official website of Iraq’s Interior Ministry claims to show Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of ISIS. (Image source: AP/Iraqi Interior Ministry, File)

Islamic extremists have long dreamed of recreating the Islamic caliphate that ruled over the Middle East for hundreds of years.

It was unclear what immediate practical impact the declaration would have on the ground in Syria and Iraq, or among the jihadi community.

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