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Double suicide bombing kills hard-line rebel leader in Syria

BEIRUT (AP) — A double suicide bombing in northern Syria on Tuesday targeted the headquarters of an ultraconservative Islamic rebel group, killing its leader and several other high ranking members.

The attack marked the second time in less than a year that a bombing takes out the leadership of Ahrar al-Sham, one of the most powerful Islamic groups fighting both President Bashar Assad’s forces and its rival, the Islamic State group, which holds wide swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq.

Tuesday’s attack struck the headquarters of Ahrar al-Sham northwest of the town of Idlib, killing the group’s leader, Abu Abdelrahman Salqeen. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said six others Ahrar al-Sham members also died. The Local Coordination Committees and other activists also reported the attack.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the bombing.

The attack came few days after a senior member of Ahrar al-Sham published an op-ed piece in the Washington Post in which he denied espousing al-Qaeda’s ideology and portrayed his group as the moderate Islamist alternative in Syria, allegedly a key to defeating the IS.

In September, Ahrar al-Sham’s leader Hassan Abboud was killed along with several other leading members of the group in a similar bombing.

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