The leader and founder of the Syrian Salafi group Jaish al-Islam, Zahran Alloush, was killed in an air strike east of the capital Damascus while in a meeting with other armed Syrian groups on Friday. At least ten rockets reportedly struck the meeting.
It is not immediately clear whether or not this air strike was Syrian or Russian. Jaish al Islam’s largest footholds in Syria are in Eastern Ghouta and Douma. All near and around Damascus, areas the Syrian regime is launching an offensive to retake with close Russian air support. Meaning this aerial assassination could well have been carried out by Russian aircraft.
Jaish al-Islam is one of the Salafi groups that Saudi Arabia supports in the Syrian war against the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Its Salafi ideology is quite extreme and is indeed not dissimilar from the root ISIS’s radicalism stems from. Alloush initially made no bones about it, he sought to replace Assad with a non-democratic Islamist order, deeming democracy to be a corrupt form of governance.
However, perhaps as a ploy to win western support against Assad, he would later change his tune claiming a post-Assad Syria would be a representative Syria.