One of Syria’s largest armed opposition groups confirmed Tuesday that its leader and many commanders were killed on Tuesday while holding a meeting in the northwestern part of the country.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had said that about 28 people, including many leaders of the group known as Ahrar al-Sham, were believed killed in the explosion.
It is not immediately clear what caused the explosion or who was behind it, but the incident is likely to further weaken the country’s opposition, which is fighting against regime forces and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
State news agency SANA reported that the leader of the group known as Hassan Aboud was killed in the northwestern town of Ram Hamdan in the Syrian province of Idlib. It did not elaborate.
An activist collective called the Edlib News Network said Aboud was killed after a suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt in a meeting of the group’s leadership.
The activist network said other leading group members were killed.
Ahrar al-Sham advocates the implementation of an ultraconservative interpretation of Islam, but has worked with more moderate rebel groups trying to oust President Bashar Assad.
Ahrar al-Sham had become the most prominent member of a broader rebel coalition known as the Islamic Front. But that group was struggling in recent months after it appeared that donor funding had dried up.