AMMAN, Jordan — A car bomb ripped through Syria’s largest city of Aleppo on Sunday, killing at least 17 people and wounding 40 in one of the main battlegrounds of the country’s civil war, state-run media said.
Al Qaeda-style bombings have become increasingly common in Syria, and Western officials say there is little doubt that Islamist extremists, some associated with the terror network, have made inroads in the country as instability has spread.
But the main fighting force looking to oust President Bashar Assad is the Free Syrian Army, a group that is made up largely of defected Syrian soldiers.
Sunday’s blast came hours after a Jordanian militant leader linked to Al Qaeda warned that his extremist group will launch deadly attacks to help the rebels in Syria topple Assad.
In a speech delivered to a crowd of nearly 200 followers protesting outside the prime minister’s office in Amman, Mohammad al-Shalabi, better known as Abu Sayyaf, told Assad that ‘‘our fighters are coming to get you.’’
The warning fueled concern that Syria’s civil war is providing a new forum for foreign jihadists, who fought alongside Iraqi Sunni insurgents after the 2003 invasion of Iraq and are sending fighters to help the Taliban in Afghanistan.
‘‘From this podium, we declare jihad against the wicked Assad, who is shedding the blood of our Sunni Muslim brothers in Syria,’’ Abu Sayyaf yelled through a loudspeaker.
Abu Sayyaf is the head of Jordan’s Salafi Jihadi group, which was blamed for the 2002 assassination of US aid worker Laurence Foley outside his Amman home.
Abu Sayyaf was convicted in 2004 of plotting attacks on Jordanian air bases hosting American trainers but served his term and was released last year.
Jacques Beres, 71, a surgeon known for missions to war zones and who is a cofounder of the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders, told Reuters that half of the rebel fighters he had treated recently were not Syrians.
“It’s really something strange to see,’’ he said, according to Reuters.
‘‘They are directly saying that they aren’t interested in Bashar al-Assad’s fall, but are thinking about how to take power afterwards and set up an Islamic state with Shariah law to become part of the world emirate.’’
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.