BEIRUT — A top Syrian rebel leader and head of the most powerful insurgent group in the eastern suburbs of Damascus has been killed in an aerial raid that targeted the group’s headquarters, rebel sources and the Syrian army say.
The death of Zahran Alloush, head of Jaysh al Islam, is a big blow to rebel control of the rural eastern suburban area of Damascus known as al Ghouta, the rebels said.
Defence experts said the disarray among the rebel forces could also consolidate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s control over the rest of the area.
Several rebel leaders have been killed since Russia began an aerial campaign on September 30 in support of its ally Mr Assad, although Moscow has insisted that it is concentrating its attacks on Islamic State.
The rebel sources said that in the raid Russian planes targeted a secret headquarters of the group, which is the largest rebel faction in the area and has about 15,000 to 20,000 fighters according to Western intelligence.
Jaysh al Islam has effectively been running the administration of the Eastern Ghouta area since 2013, when the group was formed from an amalgamation of scores of rebel brigades.
The rebels said Alloush was killed while holding a meeting with other rebel leaders in the Marj area in al-Ghouta that has been the target of a major Syrian assault in the last few weeks.
Jaysh al Islam was one of the main rebel groups that attended a recent Saudi-backed opposition meeting in Riyadh and will be negotiating with Mr Assad’s government in Geneva.
PM congratulates Nepali national cricket team
KATHMANDU— Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has congratulated Nepali national cricket team for being able to clinch the International T20 series.
PM Oli in a tweet extended best wishes and congratulations saying he was very happy to know Nepal’s win over the UAE by 14 runs in the third match of the series.
Winning T20 series is another landmark success for Nepali cricket, he said, adding, “It is big achievement for Nepal’s cricket. I would like to heartily congratulate entire members of Nepali cricket squad”.