Syria rebel chief ‘killed in double suicide bomb’

Beirut (AFP) – A senior member of the Syrian Ahrar al-Sham rebel group was killed along with six other fighters on Tuesday in a double suicide bombing in northwestern Syria, a monitor said.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was believed to have been carried out by a group linked to the Islamic State group.

The Britain-based monitor said seven members of Ahrar al-Sham, a conservative Islamist rebel group, were killed in the blast near the town of Salqin.

Among them was Abu Abdel Rahman Salqin, described by Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman as “one of Ahrar al-Sham’s most senior leaders”.

Ahrar al-Sham is one of the most powerful rebel groups in northern Syria and belongs to an alliance with Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front that has seized most of Idlib province in recent months.

Despite its conservative ideology, Ahrar al-Sham is opposed to IS.

In September 2014, 47 members of Ahrar al-Sham’s leadership were killed when a blast hit a meeting of its top religious and military chiefs in Idlib.

No group claimed responsibility for that bombing, which forced the group to quickly establish a new leadership.

Ahrar al-Sham is one of the oldest and largest of Syria’s armed opposition groups, established in 2011 by Islamists released by the Syrian regime.

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