Zahran Alloush

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Zahran Alloush
Zahran Alloush, Syria, 2015.jpg
Zahran Alloush attending a military parade in eastern Ghouta, 29 April 2015.
Died25 December 2015(2015-12-25) (aged 43–44)
Utaya, Rif Dimashq, Syria
Cause of deathAir strike
Known forCommander of Jaysh al-Islam
Military career
Allegiance Islamic Front
(November 2013-December 2015)
Service/branch Jaysh al-Islam
(2011-December 2015)
Years of service2011–2015
Battles/warsSyrian Civil War 

Zahran Alloush (Arabic: زهران علوشZahrān ʿAlūš; 1971 – 25 December 2015) was a Syrian Islamist leader active in the Syrian Civil War. He was the commander of Jaysh al-Islam (or Army of Islam), a major component of the Islamic Front, of which he was the military chief, and was described as one of the most powerful persons in rebel-held Syria. He was assassinated by a Syrian Air Force airstrike on 25 December 2015 and Essam al-Buwaydhani was named his successor as head of Jaysh al-Islam.[2][3][4][5]

Early life[edit]

Zahran Alloush was born in Douma, Rif Dimashq, in 1971, and was married to three women.[citation needed] His father was Abdullah Alloush, a scholar and the previous director of Al Assad center for Quoran studies in Damascus.[6] He joined the faculty of law at Damascus University,[citation needed] and completed a master's degree in Shariah law at the Islamic University of Madinah.[7] The Syrian Intelligence Palestine Branch arrested him in 2009 on charges of weapons possession. He was released from Sednaya Prison in 2011 as part of a general amnesty three months into the Syrian Uprising.[8]

Syrian Revolution[edit]

Following his release, he established a rebel group called the Battalion of Islam to fight the Assad Government. The group expanded and renamed itself the Brigade of Islam, and in 2013 it merged with other rebel factions to form Jaysh al-Islam, still under Alloush's leadership. This became the most powerful rebel group operating in the Damascus area.[9]

Alloush called for cleansing Damascus of all Alawites and Shiites,[10] later telling Western journalists that these and similar statements had been caused by the pressure and "psychological stress" he was under from living through the Syrian Government's siege of Ghouta.[7]

A number of Syrian opposition figures have accused Alloush of being responsible for the kidnapping of Syrian activist Razan Zeitouneh and her companions in Douma on 9 December 2013. Alloush denied the allegations.[11][12][13]

In April 2015, Zahran Alloush suddenly appeared in the Turkish city of Istanbul. A spokesperson from the Army of Islam declared that Alloush would meet rebel groups leaders in Istanbul in order to discuss how to lift the siege in Ghouta. He has been criticized by the public. In the media many wondered how he could travel to Turkey and come back when the city is under siege.[14]

Alloush has denounced democracy and called for an Islamic state to succeed Assad, however in a May 2015 interview with McClatchy journalists, Alloush used moderate rhetoric, claiming that Syrians should decide what sort of state they wanted to live under and that Alawites were "part of the Syrian people" and only those with blood on their hands should be held accountable. His spokesman went on to claim that the sectarian and Islamist rhetoric Alloush had previously made was only intended for internal consumption and to rally his fighters.[7][15][16]

In July 2015 Alloush accused "international forces" of waging a media war of jihadists such as his own Jaysh al-Islam.[17]

He was reported killed in the village of Utaya to the east of Damascus on 25 December 2015 by a Syrian Air Force airstrike.[18] Kenneth Roth commented on Zahran's death by writing: "Killing Alloush is part of Assad strategy of trying to reduce choice to him or ISIL".[19]


  1. ^ "The wars of the Eastern Ghouta grind on". The Daily Star (Lebanon). 30 September 2014. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  2. ^ "Syria conflict: Essam al-Buwaydhani named leader of rebel group Army of Islam". International Business Times. 26 December 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  3. ^ "Syrian rebels name successor to slain commander". Times of Israel. 26 December 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  4. ^ "Syria rebel group appoints successor to slain commander". New York Daily News. 26 December 2015. Retrieved 26 December 2015.
  5. ^ Voice of America: "Syrian Rebels Mourn Loss of Leader, Name Replacement" December 26, 2015
  6. ^ Kittleson, Shelly (May 28, 2015). "Syrian opposition defends Eastern Ghouta situation". Al-Monitor.
  7. ^ a b c "Islamist rebel leader walks back rhetoric in first interview with Western media". 20 May 2015. Retrieved 25 May 2015.
  8. ^ Aron Lund (17 June 2013). "Freedom fighters? Cannibals? The truth about Syria's rebels". The Independent. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
  9. ^ "Syria army 'tightens siege of rebel bastion near Damascus'". AFP. 3 May 2015. Retrieved 11 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Zahran Alloush: His Ideology and Beliefs". Joshua Landis. 15 December 2013. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
  11. ^ Pizzi, Michael. "The Syrian Opposition Is Disappearing From Facebook". The Atlantic. Retrieved 8 February 2014.
  12. ^ "One year on, activists demand answers in Razan Zaitouneh disappearance". Syria Direct. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  13. ^ "Top Syrian rebel leader reported killed in airstrike". LA Times. 25 December 2015. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  14. ^ "Zahran Alloush, leader of Jaish al-Islam". Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  15. ^ Syrian Rebel Leader Changes His Conservative Rhetoric in First Talk With an American Newspaper. YouTube. 22 May 2015. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  16. ^ "Syria Comment » Archives "Is Zahran Alloush in Amman?" by Aron Lund - Syria Comment". Syria Comment. Retrieved 19 August 2015.
  17. ^ الشيخ زهران علوش يكشف عن خفايا الحرب الإعلامية - YouTube. 3 August 2015. Retrieved 25 December 2015 – via YouTube.
  18. ^ "Top Syrian rebel leader Zahran Alloush killed in air strike in Damascus suburb". Russia Today. TV-Novosti. 25 December 2015. Retrieved 25 December 2015.
  19. ^ AbuKhalil, As'ad (December 25, 2016). "The theories of Kenneth Roth about Zahran Alloush: is Kenneth Roth a joke or what?". The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب.

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