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Former Nusra Front says US-led coalition struck HQ, killing 25

Up to 25 members of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham were killed in air strikes on their provincial headquarters on Tuesday
Archive image shows destruction after an air strike in the province of Idlib (AFP)

Planes reportedly belonging to the US-led coalition struck a local headquarters of the group formerly known as al-Nusra Front in Syria on Tuesday night, the group's spokesperson said.

Up to 25 members of Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly known as the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front, were killed when a building they were meeting in was struck in the northern province of Idlib.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitor, said it was unclear who had carried out the attack.

Tuesday is the fifth day of a nationwide ceasefire in Syria but its sponsors, Russia and Turkey, say this excludes Islamic State and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham.

READ: Syrian army advances as rebel groups put peace talks on hold

Jabhat Fateh al-Sham spokesperson Abu Anas al-Shami, however, said the attack was carried out by the international coalition.

"The headquarters targeted by the international coalition a short time ago are a main headquarters for that area and contains a number branch offices, leading to the killing of the brothers," he said in a statement.

The Pentagon, which directs the US-led coalition's activities in Syria and Iraq, did not immediately comment on the statement.

It did confirm, however, that the US-led coalition had carried out flights in support of Turkish forces near the Islamic State-controlled Syrian town of al-Bab last week. However, it said it did not carry out air strikes, according to Pentagon spokesperson Peter Cook.

The flights were meant as a "visible show of force," Cook said on Tuesday.

"My understanding is that last week there was a request when some Turkish forces came under fire for air support and there... were flights conducted by the coalition at that time," Cook added.

The US-led coalition has been reluctant to provide support to NATO member Turkey in its advance towards al-Bab. Turkey recently called on the coalition to provide air support for Turkish-backed troops besieging the town, but its request was reportedly denied.

Russian fighter jets, however, last week bombed the town, aiding a Turkish advance on the ground.

Russian officials have insisted that the attack was not coordinated with Turkey.

Rebels supported by Turkish troops have laid siege to al-Bab for weeks under the "Euphrates Shield" operation launched by Turkey four months ago to sweep Islamic State militants and Kurdish fighters from areas close to its Syrian border.

A US defence official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the coalition's sorties took place on Thursday.