A senior commander of a militant group, previously known as Jabhat al-Nusra and affiliated to al-Qaeda, has been killed in air strikes near Aleppo on Thursday, 8 September.

The group renamed Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, declared on its Twitter account that its commander Abu Omar Sarakeb has been "martyred" in an airstrike near Aleppo province in Syria. However, it is not clear which country carried out the air raid.

According to Reuters, Sarakeb was one of the founding members of the Nusra group and had been one of the Islamists to fight US forces in Iraq after the US invasion in 2003. The militant group cut its ties with al-Qaeda at the end of July.

Reuters quoted a jihadist source as saying that Sarakeb and others were targeted in a militant hideout in Kafr Naha, west of Aleppo .

The UK based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that air raids hit an Army of Conquest meeting in Aleppo and killed Abu Omar Sarakeb and another commander named Abu Muslem al-Shami.

The Army of Conquest is the largest alliance of rebels comprising of Ahrar al-Sham, Faylaq al-Sham and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, earlier known as the Nusra Front. In February, Jabhat al-Nusra was excluded from US and Russia's cessation of hostilities along with the Islamic State (Isis).

Despite a change in its name and cutting off ties with al-Qaeda, the US, which labels it as a terrorist organisation, said it saw no reason to change its stance on the group. Washington added that a change in name does not mean the group is changing its hard line jihadist ideology.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will reportedly meet on Friday, 9 September, in Geneva for talks on Syria, the US State Department said.

Syria civil war Aleppo
Fighters of the Syrian Islamist rebel group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, the former al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front, ride on a pick-up truck in the 1070 Apartment Project area in southwestern Aleppo, Syria, 5 August 2016 - Representational image Reuters