Rebels: Free Syria Army chief wounded in explosion

Syrian opposition sustains additional setback with injury of FSA commander after resignation of National Coalition head.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
March 25, 2013 10:31
2 minute read.
Free Syria Army

Free Syria Army_390. (photo credit: Reuters)

Free Syrian Army commander Riad al-Assaad was injured in an explosion in the early hours of Monday morning, Al Arabiya quoted an FSA spokesman as saying.

Al-Assaad sustained wounds from a bomb explosion near Deir al-Zor in east Syria. The region has seen an eruption of violence in recent months between Syrian opposition forces and supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

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Preliminary investigations point toward the suspicion that the bomb was hurled at al-Assaad's convoy, in contradiction to some previous reports that it was planted in his vehicle, an FSA spokesman was quoted as saying by Al Bawaba.

Al-Assaad was taken to Turkey for treatment, a Turkish official said on Monday. The official added that one of Asaad's legs was severed as a result of the blast but his injuries were not life threatening.

"No matter who they [Assad forces] kill, and no matter what they destroy, the uprising against the regime will continue,” Louay al-Mokdad, a coordinator for the FSA said.

The event follows the resignation of the head of Syria's main opposition group - the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition - on Sunday, weakening the moderate wing of the two-year revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad's rule and complicating Western efforts to back the rebels.



The resignation of Moaz Alkhatib, a former imam of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus who had offered Assad a negotiated exit, could make the West more cautious in supporting the revolt. Alkhatib was seen as a moderate bulwark against the rising influence of al-Qaida linked jihadist forces.

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Syrian opposition leaders are due to attend an Arab League summit this week, Qatar said earlier on Sunday, looking for more support for their armed uprising.

The conflict pits Syria's Sunni Muslim majority against Assad's Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam that has controlled the country for almost five decades, deepening the Sunni-Shi'ite divide in the Middle East and raising tension between Gulf states and Iran.

Arab governments and Turkey have increased arms shipments to the opponents of Assad in recent months with the help of the CIA, The New York Times reported on Monday, citing flight data, rebel commanders and officials in several countries.

The US government, believing that other states would be arming the rebels anyway, involved the CIA in the project in order to gain a modicum of control over who the weapons were going to and which type of weapons were being sent, according to the official. The US wished to steer weapons shipments away from Islamists and prevent the shipping of weapons that could be used in future terror attacks, he added.

Reuters contributed to this article.


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