[Ed. note – The US-backed “moderate” rebel group Ahrar al-Sham is believed to have been behind a bloody massacre that took place Thursday in the Syrian town of Zara. The mainly Alawite town is located some 12 miles northwest of Aleppo near the Turkish border. The slaughter in the town came one day before an Israeli attack in Damascus that killed a Hezbollah commander–and on the same day that Turkish President Recep Erdogan hinted at the possibility of sending troops into Syria.
“We are making our necessary preparations to clean up across the border due to problems happening in Kilis,” Erdogan said.
Kilis is a Turkish border town situated some 20 miles northeast of Zara.
The assassination of the Hezbollah commander took place earlier today. The Syrian Free Press is calling it unequivocally an “Israeli terrorist attack.” Killed was Mustafa Badreddine. According to SFP:
Badreddine was the commander of Hezbollah’s military arm, its chief of intelligence, and adviser to the movement’s Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah.
He was the cousin and brother-in-law of the top Hezbollah commander, Imad Mughniyeh, who was likewise assassinated by the Israeli regime in Damascus in 2008. Israel’s spy agency, Mossad, killed Mughniyeh by remotely detonating a bomb planted in the spare tire of a parked SUV in the Syrian capital.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah has confirmed the death of its top commander, Reuters report.
Pro-Hezbollah activists on the social media were paying homage to the commander. Mughniyah’s son, Jihad, was also killed in an Israeli airstrike in Syria in January 2015.
The same report goes on to note that the Syrian Army has seized “sizable quantities” of Israeli made weapons and advanced military equipment.
As for the massacre in Zara, it comes just days (the timing in all this is quite remarkable) after the US blocked Russian efforts to have Ahrar al-Sham placed on the UN terrorist list–something the article below takes pains to make note of.
Syrian Villagers Describe Massacre By Militant Group Spared from UN Terror Blacklist
Eyewitnesses from Zara, an Alawite Syrian village, have revealed brutal killings and kidnappings at the hands of Ahrar al-Sham and Al-Nusra fighters to RT. This week, Western powers blocked the militant group’s inclusion on the UN terrorist list.
Ahrar al-Sham, which espouses a strict Salafist form of Sunni Islam, reportedly fought alongside the Al-Nusra Front, an internationally recognized terrorist organization, which is not protected by the US and Russia-mediated ceasefire in Syria.
The group admitted responsibility for the raid but claimed that it had not mistreated those who did not resist.
“Civilians were not targeted. On the contrary factions made great effort to spare civilians and deal with prisoners humanely,” said an Ahrar al-Sham spokesman in a statement, cited by Reuters.
However, residents of the village who spoke with RT Arabic painted a different picture of events, describing the raid on the settlement as a war crime.
Veterans Today is reporting that US, Saudi, and Turkish generals have supplied armed groups in Syria with weapons and food and are now actively directing an operation to capture the Syrian village of Khan Tuman.