Hezbollah-linked commander assassinated in southern Syria

Aref Al Jahmani survived a previous murder attempt in April

Syrian government forces' soldiers hold their weapons during a government guided tour in the village of al-Sourah, province of Deraa. Youssef Karwashan / AFP

A Hezbollah-affiliated commander was assassinated in southern Syria on Saturday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the killing of Aref Al Jahmani, a prominent figure aligned with Hezbollah in the town of Saida, which is in Deraa governorate.

It was the latest in a string of assassinations and murders going back years in territory recaptured by the Syrian regime.

Al Jahmani previously fought with an opposition group known as the Yarmouk Army before reconciling with the regime after Deraa’s recapture in 2018.

He then joined Hezbollah, rising to become an important figure in the local area. He survived a previous assassination attempt in April.

A representative for Hezbollah did not respond to requests from comment.

The Lebanese group has made major inroads in southern Syria since much of it was recaptured from rebel groups in 2018 and 2019, giving the movement access to the country's borders with Israel.

Deraa and neighbouring southern regions have been restive despite being recaptured by regime forces.

There was a general strike in several areas to protest against May's presidential election and there have been several hit-and-run attacks and explosions.

The Observatory, an opposition war monitoring group, has recorded more than 1,000 attacks since 2019 – including assassinations, the use of IEDs, car bombings and kidnappings.

Last month alone there were 26 assassinations in Deraa.

In 2016, Mustafa Amine Badreddine, Hezbollah's most senior military commander in Syria, was killed in an explosion near Damascus airport.

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