On April 8, one of the most wanted militants in the southern Syrian governorate of Daraa was severely wounded as a result of an assassination attempt.
The militant, Mohamad al-Masalmah, was reportedly wounded when an explosive device blew up next to him in al-Bahar neighborhood in the southern part of Daraa city, which is commonly known as Daraa al-Balad.
Al-Masalmah, also known by his nom de guerre “Hafu,” is wanted by Syrian authorities for orchestrating several attacks on Syrian Arab Army (SAA) troops and security forces in Daraa. According to Syrian pro-government sources, al-Masalmah commands several cells of ISIS in the governorate.
In August of last year, the SAA launched a large-scale operation in Daraa al-Balad to neutralize some 100 wanted militants, led by Hafu. During the operation, Hafu managed to flee the city along with another infamous militant, Moa’ed Harfouche. The operation ended with a Russian-sponsored reconciliation agreement.
Some Syrian opposition activists speculated that the Syrian intelligence was behind the attempt on al-Masalmah’s life. However, there is no evidence to back these allegations.
The hit on al-Masalmah was a part of an assassination campaign targeting wanted militants and radicals in Daraa. The campaign began a few months ago.
A few hours before the attempt on al-Masalmah’s life, Uday al-Rubai, a former member of ISIS’s Kahlid Ibn al-Walid Army, was seriously wounded after being shot by unidentified gunmen in the town of Tell Shihab in the western Daraa countryside. Later, another former member of ISIS, Bashar al-Hamad, was shot and killed by unidentified gunmen in the town of Ain Thakar, which is also located in Daraa’s western countryside.
Overall, the situation in Daraa remains unstable. The widespread of weapons, radical ideology and criminal activities will likely destabilize the governorate for a long while, unless strict security measures are imposed by government forces.