Zahran Alloush (2nd L), commander of Jaish al Islam, talks during a conference in the town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria August 27, 2014. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh
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Militant groups in Syria on Saturday mourned the death of a powerful rebel commander killed the previous day in an airstrike near Damascus -- a high-profile assassination that may shift the balance of power in rebel-held suburbs of the country's capital.Zahran Alloush, the head of Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam), was killed in an airstrike that targeted the group's headquarters during a meeting on Friday. Alloush's killing -- a month before peace talks are scheduled to begin between the Syrian government and opposition rebel groups -- is a blow to insurgents fighting to topple President Bashar Assad and a boost to government forces who have been bolstered by the Russian military intervention in Syria in the past few months.A former prisoner who was released in a general amnesty after the uprising against Assad began in March 2011, Alloush joined the armed opposition and formed the Army of Islam -- which soon became one of the most organized rebel factions in Syria.
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