Osama bin Laden's assistant killed during battles in Syria

September 20, 2015 11:06 am 

DAMASCUS, Sept. 20 — An assistant of the former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was killed during battles near two Shiite towns in northwestern Syria, a monitor group reported on Saturday.

Abu Hassan al-Tunisi, the Arabic for the Tunisian Abu Hassan, which was an assistant of bin Laden in Afghanistan, was killed during intense battles waged by the al-Qaida-linked militants against the predominantly Shiite towns of Kafraya and Foa in the countryside of Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The UK-based watchdog group said the battles raged over past 24 hours, in the latest push by the jihadi rebels to storm both Shiite towns, which have been under tight siege for months since much of Idlib province fell to the al-Qaida-affiliated groups.

Meanwhile, the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV said at least 100 rebels have been killed during the latest flare of battles near the towns, as the Shiite militants inside repelled the violent attack.

The Observatory said the jihadi groups on Friday detonated four booby-trapped vehicles and fired over 250 mortar shells into both Shiite towns.

It said the Syrian air force carried out airstrikes against the rebel positions in Binnish, a town in Idlib, which has largely fallen to the rebels, except the two Shiite towns and some points in its countryside.

Earlier this month, the rebels in Idlib captured the Abu al-Duhur airbase, killing 71 Syrian soldiers, according to the Observatory.

Halting the rebel attacks on Kafraya and Foa was negotiated between rebel delegations and Iran in recent weeks, but the negotiations failed to settle the situation in the towns as the rebels set demands that couldn't be met by the government forces.

Meanwhile, people from the two Shiite towns who live in Damascus staged several rallies recently at the international road of the Damascus airport, demanding that the government forces and the Lebanese Hezbollah group transport them to Foa and Kafraya.

The Syrian crisis, which has been dragging for four years, has taken a sectarian turn, pitting Sunni-led insurgency and ultra-radical groups like the Islamic State and Nusra Front against other minority groups in Syria, mainly the Shiite sect, to which the Alwaite minority of President Bashar al-Assad belongs.(PNA/Xinhua)

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