Jordan linked to killing of Syrian rebel commander

Jordan linked to killing of Syrian rebel commander
Jordan has been accused of having a hand in the killing of Jaish al-Islam's former leader Zahran Alloush, angering the rebel group's staunch ally Saudi Arabia according to diplomats.
2 min read
21 April, 2016
Jordanian-Saudi relations have been recently strained by Amman's stance on the Syrian conflict [Getty]
Jordan has been linked to the killing of Syrian rebel leader Zahran Alloush in December, leading to friction between the kingdom and Jaish al-Islam's alleged backers Saudi Arabia.

Alloush - leader of Damascus-based rebel group Jaish al-Islam - was killed in a Russian air raid in December.

The group is playing a leading role in the Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee, which pulled out of potential peace talks in Geneva on Monday.

Supporters of Alloush have always maintained that an insider provided the intelligence Russia needed to hit the rebel commander.

"Jordanian security services believe Alloush used his relationship with Saudi Arabia to repeatedly violate Jordan's sovereignty by crossing the borders into Saudi Arabia without consent," an unnamed diplomat told local media.

He said that Riyadh has received information of a Jordanian link to the killing of the commander in Jaish al-Islam - an Islamist rebel group fighting both the Islamic State group and the Syrian regime.

"Circles inside Saudi Arabia have serious doubts about the nature of Jordan's role in Syria after it signed a secret agreement of understanding with Russia last November and the recent improvement of the security relations between Jordan and the Syrian regime," the source said.

Last year, Syrian regime intelligence chief Ali Mamlouk reportedly visited Jordan - in secret - to discuss joint security issues with top officials.

The source added that Jordanian-Saudi relations have been further strained by Amman's quiet support for Russian air raids in Syria.

Jordan has also criticised Riyadh's foreign policy by saying that regional powers should prioritise on fighting IS rather than concentrating military resources on battling Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Alloush - born in the Damascus suburbs in 1970 and raised in Saudi Arabia - founded Jaish al-Islam in late 2013, two years after the Syrian revolution began.

He was criticised after the abduction of Syrian activists in areas controlled by Jaish al-Islam.

He was also condemned for using Alawite civilians as human shields by locking women and children in cages placed on Eastern Ghouta's streets, following days of heavy regime bombing.

The United States and Saudi Arabia both criticised the killing of Alloush.

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said that attempts to assassinate leaders fighting IS "do not serve the peace process and efforts to achieve a political solution in Syria".