Late on July 1, a field commander of al-Qaeda-affiliated Horas al-Din known as Azzam al-Deiri was assassinated in the eastern Idlib countryside.
According to local sources, unidentified gunmen targeted al-Deiri’s vehicle on the road linking Idlib city with the town of Binnish. The terrorist, who occupied a minor position in Horas al-Din, died on the spot.
The sources also noted that an unidentified unmanned aerial vehicle was circling over the Idlib-Binnish road at the time of the incident.
Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) was held responsible for the assassination by some supporters of Horas al-Din. The group engaged in a heated conflict with Horas al-Din last month. Nevertheless, there is no evidence proving that it was behind the assassination of al-Deiri.
Last month, Horas al-Din lost three leaders in suspected U.S. drone strikes on Greater Idlib. Qassam al-Urduni and Bilal al-Sanani were targeted on June 14. Ten days later, Abu Adnan al-Homsi was killed.
The attacks on Horas al-Din’s leaders appear to be a part of the campaign meant to eliminate the group’s leadership. This is playing into the hands of HTS, that sees the group as a threat to its grip on Greater Idlib.