Leading Al-Qaeda Germ Rebel terrorist in Syria wounded in a bomb attack by Assad loyalists

Leading Syrian rebel commander wounded in bomb attack

By Damien McElroy, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
10:08AM GMT 25 Mar 2013

Riad al-Asaad, a colonel who leads Free Syria Army (FSA) operations, was targeted by an explosive device that hit his car in eastern Syria.

A spokesman for the FSA said Col Asaad had been the victim of an attack by regime loyalists in Mayadeen, eastern Syria.

“No matter who they kill and no matter what they destroy, the uprising against the regime will continue,” Louay al-Muqdad, the spokesman told al-Arabiya television

Turkish officials confirmed comments from a relative of Col Asaad, who defected from the Syrian army in 2011, that he was being treated in hospital in Turkey.

“An explosive device exploded last night near the car carrying Free Syrian Army commander Riad Asaad, who was conducting a tour of the town of Mayadeen in Deir Ezzor province,” Rami Abdel Rahman, the director the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Col Asaad became little more than a figurehead and his group has been superseded by the Office of the Chiefs of Staff, associated with the opposition Syrian National Coalition and led by Gen Salim Idris.

Meanwhile, a series of mortar strikes near a downtown Damascus traffic circle killed one person and wounded several others, the government-run Ikhbariyeh TV station reported.

Umayyad Square, at the centre of a large intersection west of downtown, sits near the government TV headquarters, the Sheraton hotel and a number of faculties of the University of Damascus.

Syria’s state news agency reported no dead and at least six wounded in the strikes, which it said hit near the Opera House.

It was unclear who was behind that attack as well, reflecting the often chaotic nature of Syria’s two-year-old civil war pitting hundreds of independent rebels groups against the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. The U.N. says more than 70,000 people have been killed since the conflict began with political protests in March, 2011.

Damascus residents reported hearing intensive shelling on Monday, though it was hard to tell where it was coming from.

Syrian opposition figure Moaz al-Khatib said he would address an Arab League meeting in Qatar this week, a day after he announced his resignation as head of the Syrian National Coalition.

The Arab summit takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday. Arab foreign ministers met in Doha on Sunday to prepare for the meeting.

“I have decided to give a speech in the name of the Syrian people at the Doha conference,” Mr Khatib wrote on his Twitter account.

“This is a matter that has nothing to do with the resignation, which will be discussed later.”

Mr Khatib was picked as head of the coalition after it was formed in November. He was seen as a moderate bulwark against the rising influence of al-Qaeda-linked forces fighting in the revolt against President Assad.

Alkhatib did not give a full explanation for his decision to quit. In a statement on Sunday, he said he was resigning so he could work more freely.

He resigned after the coalition berated him for offering Assad a negotiated deal and after the group went ahead, despite his objections, with steps to form a provisional government that would have further diminished his authority.

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