Rafe’ Al-Salibi, a former ISIS ’emir’ from Deir Ezzour, was pronounced dead today in a message released by the media wing of the Islamist ‘Jaish al-Tahrir’ – one of the FSA groups currently engaged in fighting both the YPG and ISIS in the northern countryside of the Aleppo governorate.
The Turkish-led ‘Euphrates Shield’ operation has seen several FSA groups turn their attention to the ISIS presence on the Turkish border, and it seems that Rafe’ Al-Salibi was killed whilst engaged in a de-mining operation somewhere on this front.
Al-Masdar reported on the defected ISIS emir’s relocation to Turkey earlier this month. The fact that well known ISIS terrorists are being granted safe exit from Syria and into Turkey poses a security risk for Turkey’s neighbours, one that is well beyond being a merely theoretical cause for concern now.
But what is perhaps most remarkable about Al-Salibi’s case is the fact that he was able to relocate to an FSA group via Turkey without facing any repercussions, and despite his well known affiliation with ISIS.
In other words, Jaish al-Tahrir’s statement provides evidence that a known terrorist involved in the command structure of ISIS has been relocated to a militant group backed by the US-led coalition (one that has received TOW missiles from the US in the past).
This also raises the possibility that members of the US coalition currently fighting with rebel groups in Northern Syria may now fighting alongside former ISIS terrorists, providing them with intelligence, training and weaponry.