On December 13, Maher al-Masri, a commander of the US-backed Free Syrian Army (FSA) group Jaysh al-Thuwra, was killed by an IED that targeted his car in the district of al-Sad in the southern city of Daraa, according to Syrian oppositions sources.
According to several pro-oppositions news outlets, al-Masri was one of the commanders who led the joint offensive of the FSA and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) on the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in Daraa in June. During the offensive, the FSA and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham captured most of al-Minishiyah district in the southern part of the city.
Al-Masri was not the only commander of Jaysh al-Thuwra assassinated after the Daraa offensive. On October 26, Nassar al-Zu’bi, another commander of Jaysh al-Thuwra, was assassinated by unknown gunmen in the town of al-Yadudah in the northwestern Daraa countryside.
Many oppositions activists believe that the Syrian intelligence assassinated al-Masri and dozens of other FSA commanders in southern Syria during the last two years. However, others believe that the US-led Military Operation Center (MOC) in Jordan is targeting the radical Islamist elements within the FSA groups. This move is allegedly aimed at keeping these groups under its full control.