A French jihadist has been killed fighting Syrian regime forces in northwestern Syria, his faction announced on Monday.
The extremist used the pseudonym Abu Hamza, but his real name could not be verified.
Firqatul Ghuraba, a group of foreign jihadists in Syria’s last main rebel-held region of Idlib, announced “the martyrdom of one of its heroes… from the French Muhajirin, our brother Abu Hamza.”
The group is led by Omar Omsen, also known as Omar Diaby, a French national of Senegalese descent suspected of funneling francophone fighters to Syria. He is wanted on a French arrest warrant.
In a statement on WhatsApp, the group said Hamza died in the Jabal al-Zawiya area of Idlib during “a military advance of the Assad regime.”
Along with the statement, the group published photos of men carrying what appeared to be a body which they put into the earth.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based war monitor, Hamza was killed on Sunday during combat with the army of President Bashar al-Assad‘s regime, and was buried on Monday in the Jabal al-Zawiya area.
The French jihadists are mostly fighting alongside Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, Al-Qaeda’s former Syrian affiliate which, with other rebel groups, controls parts of Idlib.
Over the past decade, thousands of extremists from Europe traveled to Syria to fight alongside jihadist groups, but with Russian and Iranian support, Damascus has clawed back much of the territory it lost earlier in the conflict.
The war in Syria erupted in 2011 when the government brutally repressed pro-democracy protests. Since then, nearly half a million people have been killed. Almost half of Syria’s pre-war population have been displaced.