A prominent militant commander was killed by a rival hardline group in northern Syria early Friday, a monitor said, in a new hint of fierce intra-rebel tensions in the area.
An array of factions still hold parts of Aleppo province and almost all of neighboring Idlib, but they have clashed several times in a struggle for influence.
Fighters from the Nour al-din al-Zinki rebel group "fired on a car as it was crossing one of their checkpoints in the village of Al-Huta after midnight," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
"Abu Ayman al-Masri, a top commander of Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham, was in the car and was killed," the Britain-based war monitor said.
His wife was also wounded.
A spokesman for al-Zinki, Mohammad Adib, told AFP that the movement did not know who was in the car.
"The guys at the checkpoint gestured for the car to stop but it did not comply and it crossed the checkpoint. When they fired, they were not aware who was inside," Adib said.
He insisted that the incident "was not linked to the escalation" of tensions between rival groups.
Al-Ibaa, a media channel affiliated with HTS, also reported that Masri had been killed and his wife wounded after "being hit in direct fire from al-Zinki."
HTS is dominated by members of Al-Qaeda's onetime Syria affiliate, Al-Nusra Front.
According to the Observatory, Masri was in charge of education services for foreign members of the organization.
He had previously served as a military trainer for new recruits.
"Abu Ayman was a member of Al-Qaeda international," the Observatory said, adding that he had fought with the organization in Afghanistan.
Masri was already in Syria when Al-Nusra Front began establishing itself as a major force in rebel ranks in 2014.
The Nour al-Din al-Zinki movement is a militant faction with a powerful presence in western parts of Aleppo province near the border with Idlib.
It formed a short-lived alliance with HTS in 2017, but has broken it off and the two groups have clashed in the past.
Last year, HTS consolidated its hold on most of Idlib province after seizing towns and other key territory from rival rebels.