Five Islamic State leaders killed by local factions in Daraa

Fighters from local groups in Daraa during a security operation targeted a leader of the Islamic State organization in the city of Nawa west of the governorate - January 28, 2024 (Horan Free League)

Fighters from local groups in Daraa during a security operation targeted a leader of the Islamic State organization in the city of Nawa west of the governorate - January 28, 2024 (Horan Free League)

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Since the beginning of last year, local factions have launched security and military campaigns targeting elements and cells from the Islamic State organization in Daraa governorate, which resulted in the killing of leaders in the organization, in addition to others accused of affiliation with the same group.

The most recent of these operations was on January 28 of the current month when local factions in Daraa killed Osama al-Azizi, nicknamed “al-Shayeb,” known in the region as the “governor of Horan” of the Islamic State active in the governorate.

Al-Azizi is considered the fifth leader in the organization to be killed by local groups in Daraa governorate, in security operations supported by the Eighth Brigade, which is administratively affiliated with the Syrian regime’s Military Security.

The death of the “governor of Horan” came in a security campaign launched by local factions close to the Central Committees in Daraa, targeting a house in which elements of the Islamic State organization were holed up in the northern neighborhood of the city of Nawa west of Daraa. Subsequent clashes erupted, lasting for about ten hours, resulting in the death of the entire group fortified in the house.

Three military leaders of local factions in the Daraa countryside confirmed to Enab Baladi the killing of the organization’s leader, Osama al-Azizi, along with him, Awad al-Shibli, another leader of the organization from the town of Qusaybah in Quneitra, and a third nicknamed “Abu Zakour,” originating from the al-Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood in the Damascus countryside along with his sons.

The former leader in the opposition factions in Daraa governorate, Naji al-Majareesh (resides in Jordan), told Enab Baladi that al-Azizi was the Islamic State’s most prominent figure since the killing of “Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Iraqi” by local factions in the city of Jasim in October 2022.

Al-Azizi, hailing from the town of al-Shajara in Western Daraa countryside, worked as a Sharia official for the Islamic State organization that controlled the Yarmouk Basin from 2014 until the Syrian regime took control of the entire governorate in 2018.

Since the regime’s control of the area, al-Azizi disappeared from sight, and his name did not appear in the region until his killing a few days ago, according to the leader.

Islamic State’s Emir killed in Daraa

In October 2022, local factions in the city of Jasim, with the support of fighters from the western countryside of the governorate and the Eighth Brigade, carried out a military campaign using medium weapons, targeting cells accused of belonging to the Islamic State organization.

The factions managed to control the city, which the organization was planning to declare as an Islamic emirate, according to what a city leader said during a previous talk with Enab Baladi.

During the same security campaign, the factions killed 45 elements of the organization, including leaders.

Among the prominent leaders killed in Jasim during the same campaign was “Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Iraqi,” nicknamed “Sword of Baghdad,” who detonated an explosive belt after local groups surrounded his house at the time.

On November 30, 2022, the United States Central Command (CENTCOM) announced the death of the leader of the Islamic State organization, nicknamed “Abu al-Hassan al-Qurashi,” at the hands of the Free Syrian Army in Daraa.

Liquidation of Islamic State leaders

In August 2022, local fighters in Western Daraa countryside besieged the organization’s leader, “Abu Salem al-Iraqi,” in the village of Adwan. As confrontations continued between him and the factions, “al-Iraqi,” who then detonated his explosive belt, was killed.

In the same month, farmers in the city of Tafas found the body of the organization’s leader, Mahmoud al-Hallaq, known as “Abu Omar Jababi,” without knowing the party that killed him.

Shortly thereafter, video recordings appeared on social media showing al-Hallaq talking about his involvement in the assassination of Central Committee member “Abu al-Baraa al-Jalm,” who was killed in September 2020 in the city of Jasim west of the governorate.

In the same recording, al-Hallaq admitted that the organization’s leaders, “Abu al-Laith al-Azizi” and “Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Iraqi,” offered “al-Jalm” an allegiance to the Islamic State organization but he refused, prompting them to kill him, as well as confessing to overseeing operations of theft and murder of gold traders in Da’el and al-Ghariyah al-Sharqiyah.

In December of the same year, local factions killed the organization’s leader, “Abu Lu’ay al-Qalamouni,” in the town of Tal Shihab near the Syrian-Jordanian border.

He is one of the Islamic State organization’s elements coming from al-Hajar al-Aswad in the capital Damascus, and is considered the mastermind of assassination operations in the area, according to previous testimonies of local leaders to Enab Baladi.

The regime exploits

The local pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan quoted an official source in Daraa governorate last Monday that the “competent authorities” had killed the “governor of Horan” in the Islamic State organization, Osama al-Azizi, and several other leaders of the organization during a security operation carried out alongside the allied forces.

The newspaper said that a security operation targeted a house in which “terrorists” from the Islamic State organization were holed up in the northern neighborhood of the city of Nawa.

It added, quoting an unnamed source, that the concentrated security operations continue against the organization’s cells in Daraa.

The same happened in the city of Jasim last year when a campaign was launched to track down cells of the Islamic State organization, resulting in the death of the organization’s leader “Abu Hussein al-Qurashi.” The Syrian regime then declared responsibility for killing the organization’s leader. However, local factions immediately denied the regime’s involvement in the security operation or its interference in any of its events.

On January 16 of the current month, the Syrian News Agency (SANA) also announced the death of one of the organization’s elements in eastern Daraa countryside.

Similarly, the regime repeated its adoption of all the operations that targeted leaders and elements of the Islamic State organization in Daraa governorate, noting that local factions have repeatedly denied the regime’s involvement in these operations.


Enab Baladi’s correspondent in Daraa, Halim Muhammad, contributed to this report.

 

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