Leader of Syrian hardline Islamist rebel group killed in bomb blast

Hassan Aboud was killed when a suicide bomb detonated at a high level meeting in Ram Hamdan, northwestern Syria

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The leader of Syrian hardline Islamist rebel group Ahrar al-Sham has been killed along with other top commanders in a bomb blast, according to activists.

Hassan Aboud was killed on Tuesday when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest at a high-level meeting in the northwestern town of Ram Hamdan, in the Syrian province of Idlib.

A statement posted on the group’s Twitter feed said the blast had killed Aboud along with 11 other top leaders.   

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Ahrar al-Sham, or The Islamic Movement of Free Men of the Levant in English, is part of a powerful coalition of Islamist rebel groups called The Islamic Front, which rivals the Islamic State group (Isis).

The coalition wants to bring rule by Shariah law in Syria and rejects the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition, but cooperates with some of their fighters on the ground.

Syria descended into civil war after an uprising against president Bashal al-Assad’s rule in 2011. The United Nations recently put the death toll above 191,000 people.

Additional reporting by Reuters and AP.