Syria says al-Qaida linked group's leader killed

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In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, dead bodies of Syrian rebels are seen on the ground after fighting with Syrian government forces according to SANA, near the Otaiba area, near Damascus, Syria, Friday, Oct. 25, 2013. Syrian government troops on Friday ambushed rebels near the capital, Damascus, killing at least 40 opposition fighters, state media reported. The ambush was part of the military's offensive against rebel strongholds around President Bashar Assad's seat of power. (AP Photo/SANA)

BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian state-run TV claims the leader of the powerful al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra has been killed.

Friday's one-line report, which could not be immediately confirmed, says Abu Mohammad al-Golani was killed in the coastal province of Latakia. It did not say when or give other details. Opposition groups had no immediate comment on the report.

Rebels have gained footholds in mountainous regions of Latakia, which is largely loyal to President Bashar Assad.

The extremist group, also known as Nusra Front, is on a U.S. State Department list of terrorist organizations. The group has emerged as one of the most effective among rebel groups fighting Assad.

Al-Golani's death would be a huge blow to rebels who have been fragmented and outgunned by Assad's forces.