ISIS Eyed as Blast Wipes Out Syria Rebel Leaders
Suicide bomber takes out hardline Islamist group
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 9, 2014 11:48 PM CDT
Updated Sep 10, 2014 12:01 AM CDT
Members of the Ahrar al-Sham brigade exercise in a training camp in Syria.   (AP Photo)

(Newser) – The leadership of a hardline Islamist group battling the Syrian regime has been wiped out by a suicide bomber—and suspicion has fallen on the even more hardline Islamists of ISIS. The blast hit a meeting of Ahrar al-Sham, a powerful member of the Islamic Front rebel coalition, killing leader Hassan Abboud and 11 other top commanders among a total of around 40 victims, the BBC reports. The group has clashed with ISIS—which "accidentally" beheaded one of its leaders last fall—before, and in a BBC interview in June, Abboud said the rival group represented "the worst image ever of Islam."

Analysts say that the blast has thrown anti-Assad and anti-ISIS forces in Syria into even more disarray, although Abboud's group was probably too hardline to have worked with the US. "Ahrar al-Sham had been one of the best-led and most organized, and overall, one of the most effective groups on the ground," a a Syria analyst for the International Crisis Group tells the AP, describing the group's political strategy as "relatively pragmatic" despite its fundamentalist beliefs. "It's a loss of talent within the rebel spectrum as a whole," the analyst says. "Ahrar al-Sham was one of the strongest, if not the strongest rebel group, and the question is, what will it look like going forward?"
 

My Take on This Story
Show results without voting  |  
26%
10%
29%
20%
7%
9%