Blast kills top leaders of Qaeda branch in Syria

Members of al Qaeda's Nusra Front gesture as they drive in a convoy touring villages, which they said they have seized control of from Syrian rebel factions, in the southern countryside of Idlib, Dec. 2, 2014. (Reuters)

Four leaders of al-Qaeda’s branch in Syria, al-Nusra Front, including its general military commander Abu Humam al-Shami, have been killed in an explosion in the northwest province of Idlib on Thursday, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

Al-Shami is one of the most senior Nusra Front figures to be killed since it formed in 2012 and has fought in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, Reuters news agency reported, quoting sources said.

Reports said the explosion was caused by a coalition airstrike that hit a high-level Nusra Front meeting in Idlib, but the coalition has denied having conducted any airstrikes in the province in the past 24 hours.

The Nusra Front has fought Western-backed rebels this year, seizing their territory and forcing them to disarm so as to
consolidate its power in northern Syria.

Hazzm, one of the last remnants of non-jihadist opposition to President Bashar al-Assad in northern Syria, dissolved itself
last week after weeks of fighting with the Nusra Front.

After Thursday's attack, the Nusra Front told its members not to provide information to the media, the Reuters sources said.

The weakness of the mainstream Syrian opposition and the growing power of the Nusra Front and Islamic State has
complicated diplomatic efforts to end the Syrian conflict that has killed around 200,000 people.

[With Reuters]

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Last Update: 19:53 KSA 22:53 - GMT 19:53
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