Zahran Alloush attending a military parade in eastern Ghouta, 29 April 2015.
|Died||25 December 2015 (aged 43–44)|
Utaya, Rif Dimashq, Syria
|Cause of death||Syrian Air Force strike|
|Known for||Commander of Jaysh al-Islam|
|Allegiance|| Islamic Front |
(November 2013-December 2015)
|Service/|| Jaysh al-Islam |
|Years of service||2011–2015|
|Battles/wars||Syrian Civil War †|
Zahran Alloush (Arabic: زهران علوش Zahrān 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 killed by a Syrian Air Force airstrike on 25 December 2015 and Essam al-Buwaydhani was named his successor as head of Jaysh al-Islam.
Zahran Alloush was born in Douma, Rif Dimashq, in 1971, and was married to three women. His father was Abdullah Alloush, a scholar and the previous director of Al Assad center for Quoran studies in Damascus. He joined the faculty of law at Damascus University, and completed a master's degree in Shariah law at the Islamic University of Madinah. 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.
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.
Alloush called for cleansing Damascus of all Alawites and Shiites, 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.
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.
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.
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.
In July 2015 Alloush accused "international forces" of waging a media war of jihadists such as his own Jaysh al-Islam.
He was reported killed in the village of Utaya to the east of Damascus on 25 December 2015 by a Syrian Air Force airstrike. 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".
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