The "Lion of the Republican Guard" is no more
He lived to see the Siege of Deir Ezzor broken, but not to see the end of the war in his country. Issam Zahreddine, one of two Syria's truly legendary commanders, (the other being Suheil al-Hassan of the Tiger Forces), has been killed when his vehicle struck a land mine:
The prominent Syrian Arab Army (SAA) officer, Major General Issam Zahreddine, was killed today in Deir Ezzor after his convoy struck a land mine planted by the Islamic State (ISIS).
According to a military source, General Zahreddine was conducting a special operation at Saqr Island in Deir Ezzor, when his vehicle struck the land mine.
Having distinguished himself in a victory over the rebels in Homs early in the war Zahreddine was flown into the already-besieged Deir Ezzor in October 2013 to take over command after the previous commander had been killed. He was wounded shortly after his arrival but ultimately managed to keep ISIS at bay for 4 years until the siege was lifted last month. A son of his fought under him in the besieged city.
For years Deir Ezzor had been an island in ISIS territory separated from the rest of the government areas by hundreds of kilometers. Scarcely reported on in the western media the defiance of the city's defenders and people was one of the heroic tales of our day.
Zahreddine died clearing the last remnants of ISIS from Deir Ezzor outskirts on Saqr island in the Euphrates.
The general from Syria's Druze community in the south will forever be linked with the Sunni Arab and Christian Assyrian city in the country's east.
Earlier this year he was placed on an EU sanctions list - no explanation was given.