Ali Ramzi al-Aswad, senior PIJ leader and engineer who was killed in the Syrian capital on Sunday morning. (Photo credit: watanserb.com)
On the morning of 19 March, Ali Ramzi al-Aswad, a senior leader and engineer in the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement’s military wing, the Quds Brigade, was assassinated by Israel near the Syrian capital Damascus.
“The Al-Quds Brigade mourns the martyr commander and engineer Ali Al-Aswad, who was assassinated by agents of the Zionist enemy in the countryside of Damascus,” the PIJ said in a statement.
Initially, unofficial Syrian sources had reported that Aswad, 31-years-old, also known as Abu Abdel Rahman, was killed early on Sunday morning in the Dahiat Qudsaya region west of Damascus.
According to the PIJ statement, Aswad was a Palestinian refugee whose family was displaced from the city of Haifa after the 1948 Nakba. He grew up in the Palestinian refugee camps in Syria before joining the ranks of the PIJ movement in Syria.
“An Israeli Mossad squad consisting of four members shot and killed the engineer commander, Ali Ramzi al-Aswad,” Israeli journalist Yoni Ben Menachem was quoted to have told Hebrew media.
“The security establishment has begun to work,” Menachem added.
Israel’s Channel 12 media network claimed in a report that Aswad “had a hand in” in the Megiddo bomb attack in the northern occupied territories last week, casting further doubt on the Israeli narrative regarding the incident. Israel had initially claimed that Lebanon’s Hezbollah was suspected for carrying out the attack.
“Investigations into the assassination of Commander Ali Al-Aswad in the Damascus countryside are still ongoing and more than one party is participating in it … The decision to respond will be taken based on the results of the investigations,” Palestinian sources told Al-Mayadeen.
This was the first known Israeli operation to be carried out against the PIJ’s Syria branch since 2019, when a leader in the group, Akram al-Ajouri, was unsuccessfully targeted in an airstrike.
The killing comes after a string of Israeli assassinations in the occupied West Bank. Over the past ten days, Israeli military and special forces units have carried out targeted killings of several leaders and members of a number of resistance factions, including Hamas, the PIJ, and other West Bank-based factions affiliated with the PIJ.
It also comes one day after a meeting was held between the Secretary-General of the PIJ, Ziad al-Nakhala and Lebanon’s Hezbollah chief, Hassan Nasrallah, in the Lebanese capital Beirut.
During the meeting, Nasrallah praised the ongoing and ever-expanding resistance activity across the occupied West Bank and in the holy city of Jerusalem.
The two resistance leaders vowed to “continue dialogue and cooperation” between the Lebanese resistance and the PIJ.
Hezbollah has long been known to cooperate with Palestinian resistance factions, and has provided them with significant amounts of technical expertise.
During the 2021 Sayf al-Quds battle, there was “high-level coordination” between Hezbollah and the Gaza-based factions.