Zahran Alloush, head of the powerful jihadist group Jaysh al-Islam, operating in the suburbs of Damascus, has been killed in an airstrike, rebels and state media said Friday.
The airstrike targeted the headquarters of Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam), a coalition of different extremist groups fighting against Syrian government forces.
Two rebel sources confirmed to Reuters the airstrike killed Alloush. Later, Syrian state media confirmed the death of the rebel leader and several other group members. Alloush was killed together with several commanders while they were at a meeting near the Damascus suburb of Otaya.
Though they alleged that the attack was carried out by “Russian planes” the information has not been officially confirmed. According to the Lebanon-based AL-Mayadeen TV, 13 strikes were carried out in the area.
Jaysh al-Islam is a coalition of Islamist and Salafist units mainly headquartered in the Damascus neighborhoods of Eastern Ghouta and Douma, where it controls large territories. The rebel group includes thousands of trained fighters and is seen as the biggest and the most organized.
Critics have accused Jaysh al-Islam of methods comparable to those of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants, as it reportedly resorts to the same inhumane methods used by the terrorist group, including public executions of prisoners.
Alloush has called for the cleansing of Alawites and Shiites in various IS-like propaganda videos posted on YouTube.
Rebel sources report that a missile hit a gathering of Islam Army leaders in the Eastern Ghouta region today, killing several of them, including Mohammed Zahran Alloush. Some reports also say that an allied rebel faction, Feilaq al-Rahman, had much of its leadership wiped out, and that the strike was carried out by Russia. (The Syrian government claims that its own airforce was behind the attack.)
This is big news and it has the potential to shift the balance of power in the Ghouta, a region of suburbs and agricultural towns into that rings the Syrian capital. It could also impact the Syrian peace process–such as it is–that is slated to begin this January.
Quid Pro Quo …. Israel martyrs Samir Kantar and Russia/Syria martyrs the rebel leader Mohammed Zahran Alloush of the Saudi private army (founded by Prince Bandar) with a few other rebel leaders. A nice exchange of Xmas gifts.
Zahran Alloush: His Ideology and Beliefs
More below the fold …
Zahran Alloush: His Ideology and Beliefs | Syria Comment – Dec. 15, 2013 |
The Islamic Front also overran the Bab al-Hawa crossing into Turkey this week and routed the moderate Free Syrian Army divisions that were loyal to the Supreme Military Command and indirectly represented US efforts to arm Syrian opponents of Assad. Salim Idriss, the putative head of the FSA and direct link to US support for the FSA, fled into Turkey. Here is an excellent video made by an FSA officer who was at one of the arms warehouses when the Islamic Front overran it and stole its contents. He was stripped of his clothes and underclothing while being held upon the ground at gunpoint. Here is Salim Idriss’ account of the events. He denies that the Islamic Front attacked his headquarters and insists that it was protecting his position. US officials have asked the Islamic Front to return US equipment and vehicles taken from the warehouses. In the meantime, Ambassador Ford has met with Alloush to discuss the possibility of his going to Geneva.