For the second time in less than a year Ahrar al-Sham, a powerful Islamist faction within the Islamic Front, has seen much of its leadership killed, this time in a pair of suicide bombings in the town of Idlib. Officials confirmed leader Abu Abdelrahman Salqeen and six others, including other top figures, were slain.
Salqeen took over the group after the September assassination of Hassan Abboud, who was also killed in a suicide bombing. There has been no claim of responsibility but it is widely believed to be an ISIS attack, as the groups have been at odds.
Ahrar al-Sham has been working hard to rebrand itself and the rest of the Islamic Front as a “moderate” movement, hoping to get itself on the gravy train of Western aid pouring into the country to any group willing to fight ISIS.
Though ISIS is seen as the probable culprit, Ahrar al-Sham is also competing with al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front for influence in Idlib Province, though the two have been on-again, off-again allies and Nusra is not seen as particularly likely to have launched such an attack out of the blue like this.