Syrian rebels name successor to slain commander
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Syrian rebels name successor to slain commander

Essam al-Buwaydhani will succeed leader Zahran Allouch, who was killed by airstrike near Damascus on Friday

Zahran Allouch, deceased head of the Jaish al-Islam (Islam Army) Syrian rebel group on July 21, 2015 (Amer Almohibany/AFP)
Zahran Allouch, deceased head of the Jaish al-Islam (Islam Army) Syrian rebel group on July 21, 2015 (Amer Almohibany/AFP)

A Syrian insurgent group whose commander was assassinated by an airstrike said Saturday it had appointed a successor.

The Army of Islam (Jaish al-Islam) said it appointed Essam al-Buwaydhani, known as Abu Hammam, as the new leader of the group. He replaces Zahran Allouch, who was killed in an airstrike on a meeting of rebel commanders in a Damascus suburb.

In a video posted on the Internet late Friday, a spokesman for the Army of Islam said Allouch’s killing “will only increase our fight” against the government of President Bashar Assad and the Islamic State group.

“We are moving forth on the path, and we do not change or alter,” the unidentified speaker said, reading from a statement.

The Lebanese Al-Mayadeen TV said Allouch was killed during a meeting to reconcile two feuding militant factions near Damascus. The station said 13 airstrikes hit eastern Damascus on Friday.

Saudi-backed Allouch was one of the most powerful rebel commanders and his group controls large parts of the Damascus suburbs.

His death comes a month before peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition are to begin in Geneva.

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