Top Syrian rebel commander dies

Arab World Materials 18 November 2013 11:53 (UTC +04:00)
Top Syrian rebel commander dies
Top Syrian rebel commander dies

A top Syrian opposition commander has died from wounds suffered in an air raid on the city of Aleppo, rebel sources said on Monday Al Arabiya reported.

The death of Abdelqader Saleh, head of the Islamist al-Tawhid Brigades, has dealt a blow to the armed opposition battling against President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

"We declare the martyrdom of Abdelqader Saleh," a statement by Tawhid said, according to Reuters news agency.

Saleh was wounded on Thursday after Assad's forces raided a Tawhid meeting and killed another commander on the spot, opposition sources said.

He was to a Turkish hospital, where he later died.

In an interview with the Opposition Orient Television from a battlefield in eastern Aleppo last week, Saleh said: "We will not let Iran and Hezbollah advance except on our dead bodies," in reference to Assad's forces being backed by Shiite militia from Iran and the Lebanese party Hezbollah.

Saleh, known by the nom de guerre Hajji Mareh, was a merchant from the town of Mareh in the countryside north of Aleppo.

As a former army conscript, he was known to have organized rebel brigades in the region under the Tawhid banner.

Tawhid issued a statement last week, along with other Islamist formations that included al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate, declaring an emergency and summoning all fighters to head to the fronts, according to Reuters.

Fighting is still raging in central parts of Syria, with reports that least 31 troops, among them four officers, were killed in a bomb attack on an army base near Damascus on Sunday.

"Three generals and a brigadier-general were among 31 troops killed in a bomb attack that caused a building in the army transport base in Harasta to collapse," Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence France-Presse.

"The timing of the attack is significant," as it comes amid a major regime offensive on rebel positions all around Damascus, Abdel Rahman said.