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Nusra Front co-founder killed in Syria: HTS, monitor

Nusra Front co-founder killed in rebel-held northwest Syria: HTS, monitor
2 min read
Abu Maria Al-Qahtani was one of Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham's most powerful jihadists and one of the founders of the group's former iteration: Al-Nusra Front.
Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham, formerly Al-Nusra Front, rules over significant territory in Syria [OMAR HAJ KADOUR/AFP/Getty-file photo]

A prominent Iraqi jihadist leader in Syria's rebel-held northwest was killed in a suicide bombing, the group he was in and a war monitor said on Friday.

"Abu Maria Al-Qahtani was martyred after a treacherous attack by an Islamic State group member using an explosive belt," said former Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS), which rules Syria's last main rebel bastion, on its affiliated Amjad media outlet.

Qahtani, whose real name is Maysar Ali Musa Abdallah Al-Juburi, "was killed and two of his companions seriously injured after a suicide bomber blew himself up", said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights war monitor.

The Observatory, with a network of sources in Syria, did not provide further details about the identity of the suicide bomber.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for Qahtani's killing.

Qahtani was one of HTS's most powerful jihadists and one of the founders of the group's former iteration: Al-Nusra Front.

HTS rules over about half of Idlib province and parts of neighbouring Hama, Aleppo and Latakia.

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Qahtani had been under United States sanctions since 2012, with the Treasury accusing him of having travelled to Syria in 2011 to transfer Al-Qaeda's ideology there, before occupying leading roles in Al-Nusra Front.

He was killed shortly after being released from an HTS prison, where he had been detained for seven months on accusations of collaborating with an enemy party, according to the monitor.

On 7 March, HTS had released Qahtani, acquitting him of the accusations.

Syria has been ravaged by 13 years of war that has killed more than half a million people and pushed millions to flee.