Suicide Attack in Syria Kills 14

Suicide Attack in Syria Kills 14

BEIRUT (AP) -- A twin explosion, believed to be caused by a suicide attack, in Syria's rebel-controlled Idlib province Sunday killed at least 14 members of a powerful ultraconservative insurgent group, Syria opposition activists said.

It was not clear who was behind the attack. Northern Idlib is an opposition stronghold, but an al-Qaida-linked group has the most sway there and it is at odds with Ahrar al-Sham, the powerful ultraconservative group targeted in the attack.

The clashes between the two groups were triggered earlier this year by a new push for rebels to take part in Russia-backed talks to bring about cease-fire. The talks also called for rebel groups to battle against the al-Qaida-linked group, which labelled the talks as treason. But the two groups are essentially fighting for control over Idlib, the one province in Syria that is totally under opposition control and has a border with the outside world, through Turkey.

The battles that raged in February were considered the worst infighting in years. But the violence has largely subsided as each group keeps control of separate parts of the province.

The attack Sunday hit a meeting of the group's leaders in eastern Idlib. The opposition-operated Baladi News Network quoted a witness as saying at least 15 people were killed in the attack in the village of Tal Touqan, to the east of the provincial capital, targeting a meeting of the group. The news network said the attackers reached the area on a rigged motorcycle.

At first, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least five Ahrar al-Sham members were killed. It later said the death toll rose to 14, including a local leader, in the twin attacks.

(KA)