12:02 GMT +322 October 2019
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    Smoke rises during clashes between forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and the Army of Islam fighters

    Top Militant Negotiator Reportedly Killed Near Syria-Lebanon Border

    © REUTERS / Bassam Khabieh
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    The Syrian Army, backed by allied militias, has made significant territorial gains in Damascus city and the wider province in recent months via a series of military operations and transfer deals which have been negotiated with assistance from the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria.

    Shaher Juma, the Free Syrian Army’s (FSA) lead negotiator, was reportedly assassinated on Wednesday afternoon when he was targeted while in his vehicle, according to Al-Masdar News, citing a military source in Damascus.

    He played a major role in negotiating the recent evacuation of Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) militants from the city of Dumayr with delegates from the Syrian government and the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria.

    READ MORE: Syrian Army Set to Enter City in Damascus Province as Militants Agree to Leave

    Damascus and its allies are actively pushing for reconciliation or transfer deals in other militant-held parts of Syria, as such arrangements greatly reduce the number of civilian causalities and limit casualties inflicted to the Syrian Army’s ranks.

    His death is a blow to Moscow’s and Damascus’s effort to negotiate a surrender or transfer deal with militants in East Qalamun, near the Syria-Lebanon border.

    It’s unclear who was behind today’s assassination, but, according to reports, Mr. Juma was not the intended target. Another person in the vehicle with him – a senior militant commander – is believed to have been the target, who was seemingly wanted dead by a rival faction.

    Syrian government delegates are still looking to continue negotiations with militants in the East Qalamun area, but it’s not immediately apparent who they will now hold talks with.

    Government forces have made sweeping gains in Damascus in recent months, with Syrian Army troops liberating the entire East Ghouta regain via operation Damascus Steel. They are now turning their attention to *Daesh-held neighborhoods in southern parts of the capital, including the Yarmouk refugee camp.

    Territory held by other militant groups in the Damascus governorate outside of the capital are also set to be targeted and liberated in the coming weeks.

    READ MORE: Syrian Army Reportedly Finds Saudi-Made Explosives in Eastern Ghouta Cleanup Op


    *Daesh (also known as ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.

     

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    Tags:
    reconciliation, assassination, Operation Damascus Steel, Syria crisis, Russian center for Syrian reconciliation, Jaysh al-Islam, Syrian Army, Syrian government, Shaher Juma, East Qalamun, Syria, Russia, Damascus
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