Damascus, London- Asharq Al-Awsat
A prominent pro-regime Syrian Muslim cleric in charge of the Damascus region Adnan al-Afiyuni was killed on Thursday when a bomb planted in his car exploded outside the capital, news agency SANA reported.
fiyuni, the mufti for Damascus province, was considered to be close to President Bashar al-Assad.
SANA, quoting the Ministry of Endowments, said that Afiyuni died “when an explosive device planted in his car exploded in the town of Qudsaya, northwest of Damascus.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based war monitor, said the 66-year-old cleric played a key role in reaching so-called “reconciliation deals” with rebel fighters on the capital’s outskirts during the country’s nine-year war.
In September 2016, Afiyuni led prayers as Assad made a rare public appearance to celebrate the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday in the town of Daraya near Damascus.
This was after the last rebels had left and the town’s civilian population had been forcibly evacuated the previous month under a surrender deal.
Afiyuni was also a member of Syria’s Islamic Jurisprudence Council and Chief Administrator of the Damascus International Islamic Center for Countering Extremism.
No one has claimed killing Afiyuni.
Assassinations like this have become rare in Damascus after government forces seized full control over Damascus neighborhoods in 2018 that were previously under the control of ISIS.
Elsewhere in Raqqa, two SDF militants were killed when an explosion struck their convoy near al-Rashid Park in the city center.
Security conditions have been deteriorating in the SDF-controlled areas in Hasakah, Dayr al-Zawr and Raqqah provinces.
Local Syrians complain that the SDF’s constant raids have generated a state of frustration and instability, severely affecting their businesses and livelihood.
Residents accuse the US-sponsored militants of stealing crude oil and refusing to spend money on service sectors.
After the evacuation, Afyouni led prayers a month later there as President Bashar al-Assad made a rare public appearance to celebrate the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday.
Assad appointed Afyouni in 2019 to head the newly-founded Islamic al-Sham Center to combat terrorism.
US-backed SDF militants killed in northern Syria
Separately, three militants affiliated with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces were killed (SDF) in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah as well as the northern province of Raqqa.
Local sources, requesting anonymity, told SANA that unknown gunmen opened fire on an SDF militant in al-Shaddadi town on Thursday, killing him on the spot.
Sayed highlighted that the war on Syria has not ended, and that his ministry and its scholars will do their utmost to shield all religious institutions and mosques from the invasion of extremism.
Sheikh Afyouni had apparently been a key figure in the Syrian government’s reconciliation deals with foreign-sponsored terrorist groups on the capital’s outskirts.
He was one of the mediators of the August 2016 deal under which militants in the city of Daraya, situated 8 kilometers (5 miles) southwest of Damascus, surrendered after a four-year bloody battle.
A prominent Syrian Muslim cleric has lost his life when a bomb blast targeted his car outside the capital Damascus.
The explosion that killed Damascus Mufti, Sheikh Mohammed Adnan Afyouni, took place in the city of Qudsaya, located 7 kilometers (4.3 miles) west of Damascus, on Thursday evening, Syria’s official news agency SANA reported.
The cleric was first reported wounded and then declared dead soon after.
It was not known who had planted the bomb, and no group immediately claimed responsibility.
Syrian Minister of Endowment and Religious Affairs, Mohammed Abdul-Sattar al-Sayed, denounced Afyouni’s death, calling it a terrorist act.