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Al-Qaeda blamed for FSA commander's death

12 July 2013, 18:01

Cairo - An al-Qaeda-linked group has killed a senior commander in the rebel Syrian Free Army (FSA), said an FSA official on Friday, an act set to widen rifts between rival moderate and radical groups fighting to oust President Bashar Assad.

Kamal Hamami of the FSA Supreme Military Council was killed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, added FSA spokesperson Louay al-Mokdad.

"Hamami's killing is a very serious development," al-Mokdad told dpa. "The Supreme Military Council is holding an emergency meeting over the murder."

"He was killed by the head of the group Abu Ayman al-Baghdadi, who asked one of Hamami's bodyguards to go back and inform members of the council that he has killed Hamami, and that they will face the same fate," al-Mokdad added.

Hamami was on "a reconnaissance mission" in the Syrian port city of Latakia where he was killed, according to al-Mokdad.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Hamami had been killed on Thursday, when the Islamist group attempted to dismantle a checkpoint belonging to his battalion.

Syria's major rebel units, including FSA, regrouped in December 2012 under a unified rebel command called the Supreme Military Council.

Hamami's killing could trigger a serious conflict inside the Syrian opposition between radical Islamist insurgents and moderate rebels.

Western powers have recently voiced concerns over the increased presence of al-Qaeda-linked groups in Syria, prompting calls for ensuring that weapons delivered to rebels will not end up in extremists' hands.



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