Activists: ISIS top commander killed in Syria
A commander and military mastermind for the hardline Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) rebel group was killed on Saturday after clashes with the al-Qaeda affliated al-Nusra Front in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, Al Arabiya News Channel reported activists as saying.
The Libyan commander known as Abu Dajana is ISIS’s chief in Deir al-Zour.
Abu Dajana’s killing comes after Al-Nusra Front and rebel brigades, including the powerful Ahrar al-Sham, launched a new offensive against their former ally ISIS in the eastern province.
Al-Nusra Front and other Islamist rebel allies have reclaimed control of factories and grain mills in Dier al-Zour, activists said.
The activists also reported other clashes between ISIS and other rebel groups in the northwestern province of Aleppo.
While ISIS was once welcomed by rebels battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, excessive abuses by the group turned much of the opposition against them.
Saturday’s offensive comes just over a month after three massive rebel alliances declared war against ISIS in much of the north.
Both Al-Nusra and ISIS grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq, but have split in Syria.
More than 1,800 people, mostly fighters, died in January fighting between rebels and ISIS in northern Syria.
The clashes also come a day after ISIS took over several rival rebel bases in Hasakeh province north of Deir al-Zour.
Both Deir al-Zour and Hasakeh are strategic because they lie on Syria’s border with Iraq.
Deir al-Zour is a key conduit for ISIS to send weapons and fighters from Iraq into Syria.
Aerial bombardment kills 20
Meanwhile, new aerial bombardment from explosives-packed barrel bombs killed at least 20 people on Saturday in Aleppo, Agence France-Presse reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying.
The Observatory said 20 people including two children were killed in separate barrel bomb attacks on Aleppo’s eastern rebel-held neighborhoods.
Hundreds of people have been killed in the several waves of barrel bomb assaults, each lasting several days, since Dec. 15, the Britain-based group says.
Thousands of people have fled the areas being targeted.
The raids come as government forces press an advance into the east and north of Aleppo city, large swathes of which fell to the opposition after a massive rebel offensive in July 2012.
Rights groups have condemned the regime’s use of barrel bombs as indiscriminate.
On Saturday, helicopters also dropped barrel bombs on Daraya, a rebel bastion southwest of Damascus, which has been under siege for more than a year.