Two Al Qaeda-linked leaders killed in north-western Syria

The men were members of the Hurras Al Deen extremist group

A view of the mostly deserted Khan Khair Bek area at the old city of Aleppo, Syria April 13, 2019. Picture taken April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
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Two Al Qaeda-linked rebel leaders were killed Sunday in a missile strike in Syria's rebel-held north-west, a war monitor said.

They belonged to Hurras Al Deen, which maintains ties to the global extremist network and fights alongside Al Qaeda's former Syria branch, Hayat Tahrir Al Sham.

Hayat Tahrir dominates most of Idlib province and parts of neighbouring Hama, Aleppo and Latakia.

"Two leaders were killed, one Tunisian and another Algerian, in a missile attack that targeted a meeting in the western countryside of Aleppo," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said from Britain.

Fourteen other fighters and a commander were wounded in the attack, it said, but the source and type of strike was unknown.

The greater Idlib area was supposed to be protected by a buffer zone under a September agreement between Russia and Turkey.

But backed by its ally Moscow, Damascus has since late April intensified its bombardment of the region, home to about three million people. Almost half of those civilians have been displaced from other parts of Syria.

Hayat Tahrir seized most of Idlib at the start of the year.

Since its formation in 2014, the US-led coalition against ISIS has also attacked extremist leaders in Idlib, but the strikes have reduced significantly since 2017.

Hurras Al Deen was established in February 2018 and has about 1,800 fighters, including non-Syrians, the Observatory said.