BEIRUT -- Al Qaeda fighters killed the
leader of a rival Islamic brigade in a twin car bombing near Syria's northern
city of Aleppo, an attack likely to further exacerbate rebel infighting in the country's brutal civil war even as
government forces continued their intense shelling of opposition-held areas of
the city on Sunday.
Syrian aircraft bombed buildings,
burying people underneath rubble in the Bab Neirab area, said the Aleppo Media
Center. It wasn't immediately clear how many casualties there were.
The bombings came after military
aircraft dropped barrels packed with explosives over rebel-held areas on
Saturday, killing dozens, including an attack that killed 34 people in the
rebel-held neighborhood of al-Bab, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory
for Human Rights. The group collates the country's war death toll.
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
Activists say the troops' advance has
been mostly been propelled by military aircraft heavily bombing residential
areas, smashing buildings into rubble, forcing civilians and rebels to flee.
They've also been assisted by weeks of
rebel infighting that has pitted a loose alliance of Syrian fighters against al
Qaeda linked extremists of the Islamic State of the Iraq and the Levant.
Fighting was likely to be exacerbated
further after Islamic State fighters undertook a twin suicide bombing that
killed 26 people on Saturday, including the military leader of a rebel group.
The attack targeted the base of rivals,
the Tawheed Brigades, and killed commander Adnan Bakkour, said Rami Abdurrahman
of the Observatory.
The al Qaeda linked Islamic State also
killed another prominent commander of another rebel brigade, said analyst
Charles Lister of the Brookings Doha Center.
Lister said the extremists killed Abu
Hussein al-Dik of the powerful Suqour al-Sham, showing that the Islamic State
was targeting key headquarters, "strategic checkpoints and senior
Syria's war, which began as a peaceful
uprising in March 2011, has slowly spread to neighboring Lebanon in a myriad of
Late Saturday, a shadowy Lebanese
extremist group claimed responsibility for a suicide car bombing in a Shiite
town that killed at least three people, in an attack linked to the war in
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.
It is the third bombing that the Nusra
Front in Lebanon claimed responsibility for in the country.
A series of bombings have targeted
Shiite Muslims in Lebanon as Hezbollah's participation in the Syrian war
exacerbates sectarian tensions at home. Extremist Lebanese Sunni Muslims now
view their Shiite brethren as legitimate targets because they support
Hezbollah. The bombing occurred Saturday evening.
The war has also become increasingly
sectarian, with extremist groups blamed for attacks against Syria's many
Also Sunday, a group that supports
militants posted a video to social networks showing a Sunni fighter beheading
another man as adults and children gathered to watch.
In the video, adults cheer as the
fighter cuts the other man's head off with a small knife.
The beheaded man's hands are tied, and
it isn't clear if he was alive while he was being beheaded. The men's accents
and languages suggest the fighters are a mix of Russian-speakers, foreign Arabs
Abdurrahman of the Observatory said
Sunday that the video was likely filmed in the central Syrian province of Homs
Photos of the body and severed head were
also posted to a separate Instagram account by a supporter of the al Qaeda
linked Islamic State. The photograph showed another decapitated body nearby.
The video underscores why many among
Syria's Christian and Muslim minorities support Assad in the three-year
uprising against his rule, fearing extremist militants will ultimately prevail
should Assad fall.