The military commander of al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate was killed yesterday in an explosion targeting a meeting of senior militants that also killed and wounded a number of other fighters, according to a state-run Syrian news agency. SANA says Abu Hommam al-Shami was killed in a military operation carried out by the Syrian army that targeted a Nusra Front meeting in a village in Idlib province. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that a number of prominent leaders, including Abu Hommam, were killed when a Nusra Front leadership meeting was targeted.
The observatory says it's not clear whether the meeting was targeted by a US-led coalition airstrike or a Syrian army strike, and the fate of the group's overall leader, Abu Mohammad al-Golani, is unknown. The US has been carrying out airstrikes against ISIS, a rival of the Nusra Front, and has on several occasions struck a cell within Nusra that US officials say was plotting attacks against the West. The Nusra Front controls large parts of northern Syria, and Idlib province in particular, and has seized territory from other more-moderate rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad. (Read more al-Nusra Front stories.)