Senior Syrian general blamed for war crimes dies in mine blast

Major General Issam Zahreddine [Image: Middle East Eye]

A senior Syrian general loyal to President Bashar Assad was killed in an explosion inside the eastern city of Deir al-Zor last Thursday.

Major General of the Syrian Republican Guard, Issam Zahreddine, was proclaimed dead by landmine by pro-government media.

Just a few weeks ago, Zahreddine was celebrating the Syrian army capture of the former ISIS-held city.

“We promised that we would not let Deir al-Zor fall, and it did not fall,” he said.

But it was his comments to Syrian state television directed at fellow Syrians who had fled the country which drew major outrage.

Zahreddine was widely televised saying: “I beg you don’t ever return, because even if the government forgives you, we will never forgive or forget.

“If you know what is good for you, none of you return.”

Last year, he provoked criticism when he was photographed posing next to dead bodies which appeared to have been tortured.

The photographs reportedly showed two hanged bodies, both of which appeared to have severe marks of torture.

The bodies also seemed to have been cut into numerous pieces before being strung up.

In a lawsuit filed against the Syrian regime in 2016 on behalf of the family of American journalist, Marie Colvin, Zahreddine was also one of several high-ranking officials accused of conspiring to kill her.

Zahreddine has been described as a war criminal by anti-Assad activists, who argue that he was responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians in eastern Syria.

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