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Rival jihadists say IS suspects executed in Syria's Idlib

A man inspects damage and destruction at a restaurant following a reported suicide attack in the rebel-held northern Syrian city of Idlib on March 1, 2019
A man inspects damage and destruction at a restaurant following a reported suicide attack in the rebel-held northern Syrian city of Idlib on March 1, 2019 AFP
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Beirut (AFP)

Jihadists controlling Syria's northwestern Idlib region said 10 alleged Islamic State group members were executed Saturday, a day after a deadly bomb attack.

A suicide bomber killed eight people, including five foreign jihadists, at a restaurant in the city of Idlib on Friday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The Idlib region borders Turkey and is dominated by an alliance led by Syria's former Al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

The faction's propaganda arm Ebaa put out a statement online saying 10 suspected IS members had been executed.

"This comes a day after a member of the gang blew themselves up in a restaurant," Ebaa said.

The Observatory confirmed the executions by HTS and said they had been carried out "in front of the restaurant".

HTS took administrative control of the whole of Idlib region last month, after overpowering smaller factions that are backed by Turkey.

The region has seen jihadist groups and rebels target each other with bloody attacks, and IS sleeper cells are known to be present.

Idlib has been protected from a massive offensive by President Bashar al-Assad's regime since September, thanks to a buffer zone deal agreed by Damascus' ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey.

But it has been hit by sporadic government shelling.

Eight years into a multi-faceted conflict that has killed more than 360,000 people, Syria's government has wrested back large swathes of territory to control around two-thirds of the country.

In the east of Syria diehard IS fighters are currently battling to defend the last scrap of the group's self-declared "caliphate" from a US-backed force.

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