IS suicide blast kills 30 rebels
The Islamic State jihadist group yesterday claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed more than 30 Syrian rebel fighters in a blast near the Turkish border.
IS, in a statement published on Twitter and the messaging service Telegram, said a suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt among rebels "getting ready to fight the Islamic State".
The blast on Sunday night struck the Atme border crossing between Turkey and the northern Syrian province of Idlib, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The monitoring group said the anti-regime fighters were travelling by bus to Turkey then back into Syria towards the rebel bastion of Azaz, in Aleppo province.
The attack killed 32 rebels as they were entering Turkey, the Britain-based Observatory said, updating an earlier toll on Sunday evening of 15. Its head Rami Abdel Rahman said the toll could rise further as other fighters remained critically wounded, reports AFP.
IS's statement said the attack left "nearly 50" rebels dead, charging they took orders from the US-led coalition fighting IS in Iraq and Syria.
IS has tried to advance on rebel territory in Aleppo province -- particularly the towns of Azaz and nearby Marea -- for several months.
Meanwhile, Syrian government forces yesterday repelled a renewed rebel assault southwest of the city of Aleppo, forcing opposition forces to retreat from positions they seized a day earlier in the latest territorial back and forth between the two warring sides trying to break each other's hold around Syria's largest city.
The development followed intense and deadly battles around Aleppo and stepped up airstrikes by the Syrian and Russian air forces in Aleppo and nearby Idlib province, reports AP.
Fighting in Aleppo, once Syria's largest city and commercial capital, has intensified in recent weeks. The city near the Turkish border has been split between a rebel-held eastern part and a government-held western part since 2012. It has become the focal point of the war, encapsulating the bloody stalemate of Syria's conflict, now in its sixth year.
The rebel assault targeted key army positions at a cement factory southwest of Aleppo. Fath al-Sham posted video that purported to show militants pounding government positions with artillery and tank fire.