Major General Issam Zahreddine, also known as Nafed Assadllah, was born in 1961 in the village of Suriya, As-Suwadya province, and lived in Jurmana neighborhood of Damascus. He joined Faculty of Military in 1980 and remained unknown to people until 2011 during which he served as a soldier in a brigade operated by the Republican Guards named brigade 104; it was also the same year that witnessed the beginning of the Syrian Revolution.
In early days of the revolution, Issam along with members of his family, who are nothing but a death squad, carried out several crimes and atrocities against civilians, mainly in As-Suwadya province. His wife still works for one of the institutions owned by Rami Makhluf, where she has practised all types of immoral behaviours and forged several business deals.
When Assad chose to counter the revolution militarily, he relied mainly on a group of elite members whom he has always trusted. Among these close members are people like Issam Zahreddine , who is a member of the Druze religious community. He has been used by the regime to portray a deceptive narrative on media suggesting that minorities, like the Druze in Syria, are on his side.
Issam Zahredeen began his bloody criminal career by perpetrating a number of crimes and massacres in the city of al-Tal, Damascus, and then Hjar al-Aswad and Al-Qadam neighborhood of Damascus to prove his savagery, barbarity and loyalty to the regime, which considered Issam and his comrade, Ali Khazam, one of the best trustworthy guys. They were later deployed to the city of Homs in a mission to wipe out the FSA military factions who were operating in Baba Amro at the time.
Despite lack of weaponry and being outnumbered by Issam Zahreeden, the FSA factions were able to hold back in Baba Amro for a long time before Issam and his gangs succeeded in capturing Baba Amro and then carrying out massacres against civilians. As a result, the regime awarded Issam Zahreeden and Ali Khazam. Ali was later deployed to Deir Ezzor while Zahredeen was sent to Aleppo to continue his bloody record in there.
In 11 July 2012, Ali Khazam was killed by the FSA in Deir Ezzor province, and this was followed by the death of brigadier Jameh’ Jameh’; which laid the foundation for both colonel Mohamed Khador and Issam to become “the actual leaders” of Deir Ezzor province.
Zahreddine is a narcissist and sadistic person who loves bragging about himself and how “courageous he is’’. Suwaydae based activists once reported that Issam did not lift one single finger after Maher al-Assad shaved off his moustache in front of his units. He is a total coward who cannot take a single step without being accompanied by a bunch of bodyguards, among them his personal bulldog called Sari Saqr, who is considered as his most important elements. There is also his son named Yarob who has been committing crimes and ransacking civilian properties in the city of As-Suwayda for years.
His son leads a group of gangs named after his father’s name ( Issam Zahreddine). Several activists have accused him of paralyzing the uprising in the city as well as arbitrary arrest of numerous anti-Assad activists. Whenever Suwadae’s people hear his name, they become frightened due to the picture he has portrayed in their minds, the picture that reflects his horrific crimes against the innocent, which he has carried out in coordination and cooperation with a number of his cousins, such as, Yousse, Zayd, Ayham, Issam, Firass and Wissam. The head of Suwadae, Wafiq Nassir, is also complicit in looting civilian properties and committing crimes in the city.
He leads different militias loyal to him in other provinces, including both Deir Ezzor and Damascus; where they have released statement urging civilians to join in their fight. He is also spreading chaos and the culture of murder in the Durzi majority city of Jurmana. The regime also relies on him in missions of cracking down or repulsing any sign of dissidence in the areas under its control.
Since the death of Jameh Jameh, Issam Zahreddine has appeared as if he is “the real leader” of Deir Ezor province. Activists have circulated video footages showing Issam fighting on the front lines in the province, the videos were leaked by his loyalists to demonstrate to the rest of his units that their leader is with them on the front lines, which would rise their moral, and, at the same time, satisfy the arrogant soul of Issam.
There have been several reports about him being wounded in battles; however, he always appears to deny the reports. He has recently showed up in a controversial picture that shows him standing nearby unidentified dead bodies, which were badly mutilated that most of their human organs were cut off into pieces. The picture has sparked an outrage on social media as it has unveiled and unmasked Issam and the regime crimes altogether.
Some have said that the horrific picture that went viral on social media carries more than a message. The first is to show that the regime forces are the only ones fighting terrorism and that they are also brutally dealing with them in the same way terrorists deal with their enemies. The second is to say that minorities are on the side of the Assad-regime, the claim that has been rejected by minorities in As-Suwayda province, mainly activists and opposition’s figures from the Durzi sect.
Even Daesh has benefited from this by saying to its supporters that the group is at war with enemies of Islam and minorities that stand by the tyrannical regime. We do not have to forget that the picture also satisfies the sadistic nature of Issam Zhreddine, who is notorious for being morally corrupt.
Issam Zahredine is one of the men whom the Assad-regime depends on. The statement that the regime has relied on a mob from the rural areas in Syria along with urban scums is best applied to the war criminal Issam and his death squads.