Key Syrian Islamist Leader Killed in Damascus Airstrike

Head of Jaish al-Islam Slain in Eastern Ghouta

Most of the Syrian military’s shelling and airstrikes against Eastern Ghouta hasn’t amounted to much in the way of military targets, simply resulting in a large number of civilian casualties. Today, however, they succeeded in killing a top Islamist rebel leader.

Zahran Alloush, the head of Jaish al-Islam, was slain in one of the attacks, with a rebel from the rival Ahrar al-Sham movement calling it a “turning point in the history of the revolution.” Jaish al-Islam has reportedly named Abu Hammam al-Buwaidani as his successor.

Jaish al-Islam has limited territory of its own outside of Eastern Ghouta, which is itself surrounded by the Syrian military and regularly attacked. Still, the group has held that territory for so long it’s become a key Islamist faction.

Alloush was the son of a top Salafist cleric based in Saudi Arabia, and founded Liwa al-Islam and Jaish al-Islam, two significant rebel factions early in the Syrian Civil War. He had sought to paint himself as a comparative moderate.

That claimed moderacy was undercut, however, by his group regularly holding Shi’ite residents of his territory in cages and using them as human shields, shipping them around to potential targets of Syrian airstrikes.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.