Leader of Syrian rebel extremist group Jaish Al-Islam Zahran Alloush was killed in an air raid on the suburbs of Damascus Friday, according to both the Syrian army and rebels.
A Russian aircraft targeted a secret headquarter for the rebel group in the eastern suburbs of the capital Damascus near Al-Ghouta. Several rebel leaders were killed since the beginning of the Russian strikes in Syria to support Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.
Moscow confirmed that its strikes only target terrorist groups in Syria.
“The Syrian air force has carried out airstrikes following intelligence reports and assistance by respected citizens, targeting terrorist groups in the eastern suburb of Damascus. As a result, terrorist Zahran Alloush was killed,” the Syrian army said in a statement.
Rebel sources said the raid conducted by Russian aircrafts shot at least 10 rockets on a secret headquarter of the group, which was considered one of the biggest opposition group in Syria, Reuters reported.
The Syrian army said his death took place when the intelligence provided information about him, which the opposition denied and blamed Russian drones. In reaction, Jaish Al-Islam withdrew from “The Supreme commission of negotiations” formed after the Riyadh meeting, which aimed to bring together the Syrian opposition.
This commission was expected to negotiate with the Syrian regime.
Mohammad Bassam Al-Malek, a member of National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, told Daily News Egypt the incident will result in the suspension of any negotiations with the regime.
“Alloush accepted the political solution, and participated in the Riyadh meeting. After what happened to him we will reject any negotiations with the regime,” he said.
Alloush believes that the Regime don’t have any sovereignty now to be negotiated with, Al-Malek continued.
Al-Malek urged the UN to move towards ending the air raids. “If the UN does not condemn killing civilians, we will freeze negotiations,” Al-Malek said.
Speaking to Daily News Egypt, Syrian former brigadier Ali Maqsud conversely said he believes the killing of Alloush will have a positive impact on the negotiation process.
“This successful operation targeted a meeting between the terror groups that were aiming to start cooperation after the success achieved by the Syrian army,” Maqsud said.
According to Maqsud, there is divergence inside Jaish Al- Islam and the meeting aimed to bring them together before the Syrian army targeted it.
Regarding whether if Jaish Al- Islam is considered a moderate opposition group, he said: “They were never moderate, and all the shells that targeted Damascus were launched by this group.”
Political analyst Charles Lister said on Twitter that this incident is powerful blow to the opposition. “Zahran Alloush’s death stands as one of the most significant opposition losses of the revolution,” he said.
He added that Russia aims to undermine the opposition during the political process.