Dubai: Powerful Al Qaida branches in Yemen and North Africa called on Tuesday for Islamist militants in Iraq and Syria to unite against the common threat from a US-led coalition.

In an unprecedented joint statement, Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and Al Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) urged their “brothers” in Iraq and Syria to “stop killing each other and unite against the American campaign and its evil coalition that threatens us all.”

The Al Qaida leadership has disavowed the main target of the US-led campaign, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) group that has seized swathes of Iraq and Syria, and has its own branch fighting in Syria, the Al Nusra Front.

But the joint statement, released on two Islamist militant Twitter accounts, called for differences to be set aside in the face of the growing coalition.

“Make the unity of the infidel nations against you a reason for your unity against them,” it said, accusing Washington of “leading a Crusader campaign against Islam and all Muslims.”

Both the Yemen-based AQAP, considered the network’s most dangerous branch, and AQIM rejected Isil’s declaration of an Islamic caliphate in June and said they remained loyal to Ayman Al Zawahiri, the Egypt-born successor to Al Qaida founder Osama Bin Laden.