Syria rebel leaders die in suicide blast

The leader of the one of Syria’s most powerful rebel groups has been killed along with at least 20 other commanders in a suicide attack on a high-level meeting in Syria’s Idlib province, reports say.

Local activist sources said Hassan Abboud, the head of the Ahrar al-Sham group, was among those killed on Tuesday as they met in the village of Ram Hamdan.

Ahrar is part of the Islamic Front alliance formed to counter the Islamic State group. The meeting included members of other Islamic Front brigades, such as the Abdallah Azzam and the Iman brigades, and was called to discuss its strategy fighting the Islamic State.

Idlib activists named others killed in the attack: Abu Yazan al-Shami, a member of the group’s shura council; Abu Talha al-Askari and Abu Yousuf Binnish, who were military field commanders; Abu al-Zubeir, the head of the Iman brigade.

It is not known who staged the attack. Reports said the death toll was between 20 and 45 people.

Ahrar, which has about 20,000 fighters and has been involved in battles against the Asad government and the Islamic State.

Another of the group’s leaders, Abu Khaled al-Souri, was killed by the Islamic State earlier this year.

Ahrar advocates for an Islamic state which protects the rights of women and religious and ethnic minorities, and disagrees with the approach of al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.

In an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera in December 2013, Abboud said he would fight for his rights and dismissed talks in Un-brokered Geneva between the Syrian government and the exiled rebel umbrella Syrian National Coalition

“We see Geneva as a tool of manipulation – to derail the Syrian revolution away from its goals and objectives … Whatever outcome the conference may yield, will be binding on the Syrian National Coalition only.

“For us, we will continue to fight for our revolution until we restore our rights.”

However, the rise of the Islamic State after the Geneva talks gave the civil war a new dimension, with Ahrar fighting not only the government but other rebel groups.

Source: Al Jazeera

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