3 min read  | Idlib, Politics, Reef Dimashq

Syria Direct: News Update 12-9-14


December 9, 2014

Ahrar a-Sham leader and explosives expert assassinated

A leader of the popular rebel group Ahar a-Sham was killed by unknown assailants in the rebel-controlled city of Maarat a-Nauman in Idlib province on Monday, reported pro-opposition Smart News Agency, while an activist told Syria Direct that the motive for his assassination is still unclear.

“Ismail Sabiya’s killer is unknown, he may have been part of a sleeper cell that was loyal to Jamal Maruf or the [Islamic State], or there were internal problems within Ahar a-Sham,” Alaa al-Din, an Idlib-based media activist told Syria Direct Tuesday.

Sabiya, who also went by the name Abu Dauod, was a founder of Ahar a-Sham and an expert in the production of explosive devices and mortars, said Smart News.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

In September, most of Ahrar a-Sham’s leadership was killed in explosion at a secret meeting in Syria’s north.

Sabiya’s death comes on the day that Liwa al-Haq and the Islamic Kurdish Front, two of the smaller groups of the Islamic Front, pledged allegiance to Ahrar a-Sham in an announcement made over social media.

Ahrar a-sham pledges Two rebel groups pledge allegience to Ahrar a-Sham on Monday. Photo courtesy of Ahrar a-Sham.

Lebanese army arrests Syrians

The Lebanese armed forces raided the houses of Syrians living in Beirut Tuesday and arrested 11 individuals in an apparent escalation of hostilities between the Lebanese state and suspected Syrian militants, reported Syria’s pro-opposition Masar Press.

The Lebanese government has not commented on the identity of the arrested or what connection, if any, they have to militant rebel groups.

The move comes one day after Lebanese and Syrian aircraft targeted rebels in the Arsal mountains with missiles and barrel bombs, respectively, reported the pro-opposition Shams New Network.

Lebanese daily A-Nahar described the air strikes as “pre-emptive strikes on militant centers and fortifications in the Arsal mountains and Qalamoun,” adding that Syrian warplanes struck the outskirts of the village of Arsal.

Immediate hostilities leading to Monday and Tuesday’s operations began over the weekend.

On Saturday, the Lebanese army attacked rebel positions in the Arsal mountains after Nusra announced they had executed a Lebanese soldier they were holding hostage, reported Dubai-based Al-Aan news Tuesday.

Nusra is currently holding 17 Lebanese soldiers hostage, with the Islamic State holding seven, whom the two groups captured after battling the Lebanese army and Hezbollah in the village of Arsal, near the Syrian border, in August.

Pro-IS leader assassinated in East Ghouta

A pro-Islamic State leader and three of his companions were assassinated in rebel-held East Ghouta Monday, reported the pro-opposition Sham News Network.

Abu Mohammed Iraqi was reportedly an Islamic judge for Tandhim Anasar, a pro-IS group in the Damascus suburbs, according to a local media activist’s Facebook page who also reported the killing.    

The attack comes in the wake of a series of assassinations of leaders of Jaysh al-Islam, the dominant rebel group in East Ghouta, as it faces increased military pressure from the regime.

No one has claimed responsibility for those deaths, or Monday’s assassination.

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