BEIRUT (AP) — A twin car bombing killed a senior leader in an Islamic brigade opposed to al-Qaida in near Syria's northern city of Aleppo, activists said Sunday. The attack is likely to further exacerbate rebel infighting even as government aircraft bomb opposition-held areas of the city.
Syrian "barrel bombs" buried people underneath rubble in four different areas of the city, including near a mosque, and a vegetable market. One bombing killed 10 people in the rebel-held neighborhood al-Bab, activists said. It wasn't immediately how many other casualties there were.
The military regularly drops the heavy, crude bombs, barrels packed with explosives, on the rebel-held side of divided Aleppo. Scores were killed in Saturday's strikes. One attack in al-Bab alone killed 34 people, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The group collates the country's war death toll and reports on the conflict from activists on the ground.
Syrian forces have inched into eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo in recent weeks, their most important advance there since rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar Assad seized the areas in mid-2012.
Activists say that the barrel bomb strikes have cleared the way for the government to advance, smashing buildings into rubble and forcing civilians and rebels to flee.
They've also been assisted by weeks of rebel infighting pitting a loose alliance of Syrian fighters against al-Qaida linked extremists of the Islamic State of the Iraq and the Levant.
That conflict may escalate after a twin suicide bombing killed 26 people on Saturday, including the military leader of a rebel group.
The attack, widely blamed by both pro- and anti-al-Qaida activists on the Islamic State, targeted the base of its rivals in the Tawheed Brigade and killed senior leader Adnan Bakkour, said Rami Abdurrahman of the Observatory.
The al-Qaida-linked Islamic State also killed another prominent commander of another rebel brigade on Saturday, the Observatory said.
Analyst Charles Lister of the Brookings Doha Center said the killing of Abu Hussein al-Dik of the powerful Suqour al-Sham showed that the Islamic State was targeting key headquarters, "strategic checkpoints and senior influential commanders."
Syria's war, which began as a peaceful uprising in March 2011, has slowly spread to neighboring Lebanon.
Late Saturday, a shadowy Lebanese extremist group claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing in a Shiite town that killed at least three people.
The Nusra Front in Lebanon said on Twitter that the bombing in the northeast town of Hermel on Saturday was to punish the Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, which fights alongside forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Extremist Lebanese Sunni Muslims view Shiites as legitimate targets, because they often support Hezbollah. A series of blasts have targeted Hezbollah support areas.
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