Jihadist terrorists
Jihadist terroristsThinkstock

Hassan Abboud, the leader of the Syrian Islamist rebel group Ahrar al-Sham, has been killed with other top commanders in a bomb blast at a meeting, the BBC reported on Tuesday.

Activists said a suicide bomber detonated a vest in the attack in the north-western town of Ram Hamdan.

Ahrar al-Sham is part of the Islamic Front, a coalition of seven Islamist rebel groups.

In February, Ahrar al-Sham blamed the rival Islamic State group for an attack which killed several of its members.

Activist groups say at least 40 people may have died in the attack, although the exact death toll is not clear.

Although Ahrar al-Sham is hard-line Islamist in orientation, it has opposed and clashed with the Islamic State (IS), noted the BBC.

IS was blamed when another Ahrar al-Sham leader, Abu Khaled al-Suri, was killed in a suicide bomb attack on his headquarters in Aleppo in February.

The death of Hassan Abboud comes at a moment when the Americans are seeking to unify the Syrian opposition into a coordinated fighting force against IS, although Ahrar al-Sham would have made an unlikely partner in such an American-led campaign, the report noted.

In an interview with the BBC in June, Abboud had denounced IS, saying it represented "the worst image ever of Islam".

Abboud said that, unlike IS, Ahrar al-Sham would never pledge loyalty to outsiders and would only fight in Syria.