An airstrike near Syria’s battleground second city of Aleppo killed the military leader of the largest rebel alliance and at least one other commander, sources and a monitor said on Thursday.
The strike on a meeting of commanders of the Army of Conquest alliance came hot on the heels of a major defeat for the rebels, which saw them under renewed siege inside Aleppo after an army advance this week.
Former al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, renamed Jabhat Fateh al-Sham when it broke ties in July, announced on Twitter “the martyrdom” of commander Abu Omar Saraqeb in an airstrike.
Jabhat Fateh al-Sham is a leading member of the Army of Conquest, which groups its fighters with factions like Ahrar al-Sham in the most prominent anti-regime alliance.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitor, said unidentified aircraft hit the Army of Conquest meeting on Thursday night, killing Saraqeb and another rebel commander named as Abu Muslim al-Shami.
Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said it was not immediately clear whether the strike was carried out by the US-led coalition, the Syrian regime or its Russian ally — all of whom are conducting bombing raids in northern Syria.
According to the observatory, Abu Omar Saraqeb was a leading member of al-Qaeda in Iraq in its fight against the US-led occupation after 2003 before becoming a key commander of al-Nusra Front and then Jabhat Fateh al-Sham in Syria.
He reportedly also founded al-Nusra Front’s Lebanon branch, which has claimed responsibility for several bombings in Syria’s western neighbor.
He operates under different noms de guerre, making it difficult to know his nationality.
He led a successful offensive by the Army of Conquest in spring last year, which saw it seize control of nearly all of the northwestern province of Idlib.
However, the alliance has been less successful in and around Aleppo, where it was dealt a major blow by regime forces this week.
Early last month, Saraqeb led an offensive against pro-government fighters besieging the rebel-held east of the divided city and opened up a new supply route from the south that broke the siege.
However, this week regime loyalists recaptured nearly all of the territory taken last month and reimposed the blockade.
Jihadism expert Charles Lister said Saraqeb had helped found the Army of Conquest last year and once served as the “emir” of Idlib Governorate.
Amid Syria’s fractious rebel movement, “he’s seen widely as an Islamist unifier,” Lister wrote.
India has moved additional troops along its northern border as it prepares for an extended conflict with China, after several rounds of talks failed to ease tensions between the nuclear-armed rivals. China has already placed about 5,000 soldiers and armored vehicles within its side of the disputed border in the Ladakh region, an Indian government official said, asking not to be identified, citing rules. India is adding a similar number of troops as well as artillery guns along the border to fend off the continuing incursions by the Chinese army, the official said. The standoff began on May 5, when troops clashed
CLOSELY TRACKED: A US officer said that the warplanes were watched as they flew from Russia by way of Iran and Syria to Libya and were photographed multiple times The US Africa Command flatly rejected Russian claims that Moscow did not deploy fighter jets to Libya, saying on Friday that the 14 aircraft flown in reflect Russia’s long-term goal to establish a foothold in the region that could threaten NATO allies. US Brigadier General Gregory Hadfield, deputy director of intelligence, said that the US tracked the MiG-29s and Su-24 fighter bombers flown in by Russian military, passing through Iran and Syria before landing at Libya’s al-Jufra air base. The base is the main forward airfield for Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar and his self-styled Libyan National Army, which has been waging an
Singapore’s otters, long adored by the city-state’s nature lovers, are popping up in unexpected places during the COVID-19 lockdown, but their antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull. With the streets empty, the creatures have been spotted hanging out by a shopping center, scampering through the lobby of a hospital and even feasting on pricey fish stolen from a pond. While many think of tiny Singapore as a densely populated concrete jungle, it is also relatively green for a busy Asian city, and has patches of rainforest, fairly clean waterways and abundant wildlife. There are estimated to be about
Indonesian officials are forcing people who break social distancing rules to recite Koran verses, stay in “haunted” houses and submit to public shaming on social media as the country battles to contain surging novel coronavirus infections. The Southeast Asian archipelago began deploying about 340,000 troops across two dozen cities to oversee enforcement of measures aimed at halting transmission of the disease, such as wearing masks in public. However, provincial leaders are buttressing these efforts with their own zealous campaigns to fight the coronavirus. Police in western Bengkulu Province have assembled a 40-person squad to find lockdown scofflaws and force them to wear