Moments ago, Abu Rateb, leader of the influencial Islamist rebel group ‘Ahrar al-Sham’ was killed in Homs governorate in central Syria. He was assasinated by unknown gunmen while driving towards Farhaniyah near Talbiseh in the southern part of the rebel-held Homs enclave.
His sudden demise comes less than two weeks after Zahran Alloush, leader of Jaish al-Islam, was killed by a Syrian airstrike in East Ghouta, Damascus. With several prominent Islamist leaders dead and rebel setbacks in Aleppo, Lattakia, Damascus and Daraa during the past month, rebel morale is on the decline while the Syrian opposition seems to be slowly falling apart.
Until his death, Ahrar al-Sham commander Abu Rateb had been overseeing remaining Islamist strongholds in the northern Homs. Furthermore, at his direct orders, insurgents launched a surprise December offensive intending to cut off the government-controlled Salamiyah-Hama road. However, this offensive was rolled back by the Syrian Army over the past week.