A prominent commander of the Turkish-backed Free Idlib Army, known as Abu Ismail, was assassinated in the noon of March 7 by unidentified operatives.
“An improvised explosive device (IED) blew up [Abu Ismail’s] car while he was in a gas station near the town of Kansafra in the region of Jabal Zawiya in southern Idlib resulting in his death,” the Baladi News outlet quoted an eyewitness as saying.
According to the pro-opposition outlet, Abu Ismail, whose real name is Amin Haj Ali, was one of the key founders of the Idlib Free Army. Abu Ismail is also known for leading several attacks on the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies.
The Free Idlib Army was established in late 2016. In its first few years, the group received direct support from the U.S., including TOW anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). The group was a close ally of the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front, back then.
When the U.S. President Donald Trump suspended support for armed opposition groups in late 2017, the Free Idlib Army strengthened its relations with Turkey and began receiving support from it. In 2018, the group joined the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL).
Syrian opposition activists accused ISIS cells of assassinating Abu Ismail. The terrorist group carried out a series of attacks in Idlib in the last few weeks, which proves that it is capable of carrying out such an operation.
More on this topic:
- Jihadist War In Idlib Continues: HTS Captures Senior ISIS Commander And Uncovers Ammo Depot (Photos)