December 23, 2014
Syrian rebel leader killed by rival Islamists
A Syrian rebel commander who fought alongside al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden and was close to its current chief, Ayman al-Zawahiri, was killed by a suicide attack today, intensifying in-fighting between rival Islamist fighters.
The Observatory for Human Rights in Syria said Abu Khaled al-Soury, also known as Abu Omair al-Shamy, a commander of the Salafi group Ahrar al-Sham was killed along with six comrades by al Qaeda splinter group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). It said al-Soury had fought in Iraq and Afghanistan
Al-Soury's death will fuel the infighting among jihadis fighting President Bashar al-Assad, a violent rivalry that has killed hundreds of fighters in recent months, rebels said.
Two rebels told Reuters that five ISIL members had entered Ahrar al-Sham headquarters in Aleppo, engaged its fighters and then one ISIL fighter blew himself up.
"Sheikh Abu Khaled was an important jihadi figure, he fought the Americans in Iraq and in Afghanistan. They (ISIL) gave the Americans a present, a free gift, by killing him," said a Syrian rebel close to the group.
"He was a very important commander, he is a close friend of Sheikh Ayman (al-Zawahiri) and he knew Sheikh Bin Laden."
Syrian rebels mourning al-Soury posted his picture on social media accounts. A fighter called for revenge saying that ISIL had "pushed it too far this time".