Toll from 'ISIL car bombs' in Syria's Aleppo rises to 27
BEIRUT - Agence France-PresseThe toll from two alleged Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) car bombings overnight of rebels in Syria's Aleppo province has risen to at least 27 people, a monitor said on April 8.
Three local commanders were killed in one of the attacks, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, describing the incidents as an apparent ISIL attempt to expand in the northern province.
One bomb hit a base in the village of Hawar Kilis, near the Turkish border, killing at least 18 rebels, the Britain-based Observatory said.
The second targeted a joint rebel office in the town of Marea and killed nine, including the three commanders.
An earlier report gave an overall toll of 15.
The Observatory said the commanders were from the conservative Jabhat Shamiya and Jaish al-Mujahideen groups and Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda's local affiliate, which confirmed the death of its commander on its official Twitter accounts.
"Abu Maria, Al-Nusra Front's emir [leader] in Marea, northern Aleppo, was martyred after being targeted by a car bomb by the [Islamic] State group," Al-Nusra said.
The Observatory said clashes erupted between rebels from local groups and ISIL fighters in and around Marea after the attack there, though they had subsided by Wednesday morning.
Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said the attacks appeared to be a bid by ISIL to "expand their reach" in Aleppo province, where the group already has considerable power.
Marea and Hawar Kilis are both under the control of groups opposed to ISIL.
Despite sharing a similar ideology, Al-Nusra and ISIL are at odds in fronts across most of Syria, and while rebel groups have battled ISIL, they cooperate with Al-Nusra in many places.
Marea and Hawar Kilis lie north of the provincial capital, Aleppo city, the country's onetime economic powerhouse, which has been devastated by the civil war.
More than 215,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began in March 2011 with anti-government protests, which spiralled into war after a regime crackdown.