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Syrian rebel commander badly hurt in car bombing

March 25, 2013|By Raja Abdulrahim
  • Riad Asaad appears on a video posted on Free Syrian Army's Facebook page.
Riad Asaad appears on a video posted on Free Syrian Army's Facebook… (Associated Press )

BEIRUT -- A Syrian rebel commander who led the opposition Free Syrian Army for more than a year was wounded by a bomb planted in his car Sunday.

Col. Riad Asaad, who defected from the country's air force and fled to Turkey in 2011, was in the eastern Syrian city of Mayadin to meet with commanders of local Free Syrian Army militias, said Muhammad Younes, an activist in nearby Deir Ezzour province. Asaad's vehicle was near a public park when the bomb went off, injuring others as well, Younes said.

Asaad was taken to Turkey where part of his right leg was amputated. Louay Almokdad, a rebel spokesman, confirmed the attack to the Associated Press and said Asaad was in stable condition.

Asaad, along with other defectors from the Syrian military, formed the Free Syrian Army in October 2011 from a camp in Turkey. But he failed to garner much support and loyalty among the various armed rebel groups under the Free Syrian Army umbrella inside Syria. Some derisively called him "Col. Skype" because while he was the public face of the group, he had little contact with those on the front lines.

He was sidelined last year when rebel military councils across Syria met in Turkey and formed the Supreme Military Council. Asaad was not named as one of the 30 members.

"He was marginalized for a while and he wants to make a name for himself again," Younes said.

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