Middle East

Syria rebel chief escapes regime ambush: FSA

Members of the Jund Allah Brigades, part of the Free Syrian Army, sit in the back of a truck near Aleppo September 23, 2012. REUTERS/Shaam News Network/Handout

BEIRUT: A Syrian rebel commander, Col. Kassem Saadeddine, has escaped an assassination attempt by pro-regime forces unscathed, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army (FSA) told AFP on Tuesday.

"Colonel Saadeddine's convoy was ambushed by shabiha (pro-regime militiamen) after midnight in Salmiyeh in Hama province" in central Syria, Fahd al-Masri told AFP.

"A large battle ensued and the shabihas were killed. The colonel was saved," Masri said.

Saadeddine, a defector from President Bashar al-Assad's forces, is the chief rebel commander in the central province of Homs and also the official FSA spokesman inside Syria.

The ambush came as Saadeddine was returning from the northern city of Aleppo, the current focal point of the conflict, after meeting regional rebel commander Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi, Masri added.

It was not possible to verify the information independently, because of restrictions imposed on the movement of foreign media by the Assad regime.





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