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