A southern Syria Islamist coalition, led by Syria’s al Qaeda offshoot al-Nusra Front, issued an ultimatum for the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade, an Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) affiliate, to surrender within 24 hours, reports the Lebanon-based NOW News.
“The dramatic ultimatum came after Nusra announced Sunday afternoon that it had assassinated Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade chief Abu Ali al-Baridi, aka the ‘Uncle,’ and other top leaders of the militant group,” notes NOW.
In a statement issued Sunday via Twitter, the Islamist coalition, known as the Army of Conquest-Southern Region, said it was giving members of the ISIS-linked brigade a 24-hour deadline to “hand themselves and their weapons over and undergo a sharia course.”
The deadline was implemented to “end bloodshed and [turn] this shameful page on that deviant clique’s pledge of allegiance to [ISIS],” added the statement, reportedly marked 5:30 p.m. at the bottom.
“God has blessed his servants the mujahideen with the death of the chief… rogues [in Daraa province], the leaders of the Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade,” added the Army of Conquest-Southern Region.
According to the statement, the ISIS-affiliate’s leaders were killed in “a special operation made possible by God.”
The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which uses a network of ground sources to monitor the civil war in Syria, reported that Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade leader Baridi, who pledged loyalty to ISIS in 2014, and two of his lieutenants were killed by a targeted bombing in Jumleh, a Syrian town near the Israeli border on the Golan Heights.
Amer al-Hourani, spokesperson for the local media collective Houran Independent Journalists, in comments to the pro-rebel news outlet Al-Souria Net, said that Baridi had been killed in an Al-Nusra Front suicide attack.
“Two Al-Nusra Front members blew themselves up near the convoy of Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade leader Abu Ali al-Baridi, who was accompanied by several of his top commanders,” Hourani told the outlet, adding, “Baridi and those with him were on their way to a meeting in western Daraa’s Jumlah area, where Abu Ali’s headquarters is located.”
The operation, which comes after weeks of battles between al-Qaeda and ISIS affiliates in southwestern Syria, was reportedly celebrated by Nusra Front jihadists and supporters.
Since late 2014, al-Qaeda and ISIS groups have engaged in on-and-off fighting in southern Syria.
“The sound of gunfire can still be heard in the western Daraa province village of Sahm al-Jolan which is under the control of Al-Nusra Front,” reported the Observatory on Sunday.
Activists told SOHR that the sounds were “the result of ‘celebratory’ gunfire by Al-Nusra Front members, after they killed Baridi.”
“With this assassination, Al-Nusra has asserted its control on the southwestern front of Daraa province, near the border with the [Israeli-occupied] Golan,” SOHR director Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence France-Presse (AFP).