Speed Reads

Crisis in Syria

Suicide bomber kills leader, 11 commanders of key Syrian rebel group

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militia isn't the only armed faction fighting in Syria. On Tuesday, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at a meeting of one of the other major Syrian rebel groups, Ahrar al-Sham, killing its leader, Hassan Abboud, and at least 11 of its senior leaders.

Ahrar al-Sham is one of the most effective of the seven rebel groups banded together in the Islamist Front, seeking to both overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and fight off ISIS. Ahrah al-Sham blamed ISIS for Tuesday's suicide attack, as well as a similar attack in Aleppo in February that killed another leader, veteran al Qaeda operative Abu Khalid al Souri. Ahrar al-Sham named a new leader on Wednesday, but it's not clear if the group can recover from losing so many commanders.

On Wednesday night, President Obama is expected to announce that he will ask Congress for the authority to quickly arm the more moderate militias in Syria as part of his plan to defeat ISIS. The BBC says that "Ahrar al-Sham would have made an unlikely partner in such an American-led campaign," because of its ultraconservative Islamic beliefs and policy of never vowing loyalty to outsiders. Still, the group hates ISIS, and the attack is a setback for ISIS opponents. The BBC interviewed Abboud back in June, as parts of Syria were preparing to go to the polls. You can watch below. --Peter Weber