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Saudi-owned channel claims Islamic State has pledged 'solidarity' with Qatar

Claim was posted by Al-Ekhbariya as leaders from Qatar and Saudi Arabia failed to reach an agreement on how to resolve Gulf crisis
Launched in 2004, Al-Ekhbariya was created to "present a new image of the Gulf Arab State" and rival the Qatari-backed Al-Jazeera news network (screengrab: @ahmed)

A Saudi-owned news channel has claimed that the Islamic State (IS) group has pledged its allegiance to Qatar. 

The claim was posted on Twitter on Friday evening, as the Qatari emir called the Saudi crown prince to discuss the ongoing diplomatic crisis.

By Saturday morning, Saudi Arabia announced it was suspending dialogue with Qatar.

The conversation between Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani and Mohammed Bin Salman followed an attempt by US President Donald Trump last week to broker an agreement between Qatar and the Saudi-led bloc.

Trump said on Thursday he could resolve the crisis "quickly" following a meeting in Washington with Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah.

Al-Ekhbariya, a news channel owned by the Saudi government, alleged on Friday that IS had declared its "solidarity with authorities in Doha against the countries calling to fight against terrorism" in a tweet posted on the outlet's twitter account.

But there are doubts that such a declaration was ever made by IS.

The tweet follows ongoing accusations by Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt that Qatar has sponsored terrorism in the region, a claim that Doha has denied since the crisis began in early June.

Translation: "Breaking: The terrorist 'Daesh' group declares its solidarity with #authorities_in_Doha against the #countries_calling_to_fight__against_terrorism. #Alekhbariya #Daesh_sides_with_Qatar

The crisis began after a false news story was planted in May this year on the Qatari state news agency which claimed that Qatar intended to have stronger relations with Iran and Israel and questioned whether US President Trump would last in office. 

In June, US investigators told CNN that they suspected that Russian hackers had planted the fake news story on Qatar's news agency. 

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani told CNN the FBI has confirmed the hack and the planting of fake news.

"Whatever has been thrown as an accusation is all based on misinformation, and we think that the entire crisis being based on misinformation," Thani said.

Russia dismissed the claims and claimed that it was "another lie that was published by CNN". 

Launched in 2004, Al-Ekhbariya was created to "present a new image of the Gulf Arab state" and rival the Qatari backed Al-Jazeera news network.

Unlike other Saudi-backed news channels which have only male newscasters, Al-Ekhbariya made its mark by hiring female newscasters in a bid to dispel claims about the role of Saudi women in the Gulf kingdom. 

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