Blast hits Free Syrian Army commander in eastern Syria
BEIRUT - Riad Asaad, commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army, was injured overnight in a blast that hit his car in eastern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog said on Monday.
"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," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Abdel Rahman said Asaad had been wounded in the leg, and a relative of the commander said that he had been transferred to Turkey for treatment after the blast.
"No matter who they [Assad forces] kill, and no matter what they destroy, the uprising against the regime will continue,” Louay al-Mokdad, a coordinator for the FSA said.
The event follows the resignation of the head of Syria's main opposition group - the Western-backed Syrian National Coalition - on Sunday, weakening the moderate wing of the two-year revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad's rule and complicating Western efforts to back the rebels.
The resignation of Moaz Al Khatib, a former imam of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus who had offered Assad a negotiated exit, could make the West more cautious in supporting the revolt. Al Khatib was seen as a moderate bulwark against the rising influence of al-Qaeda linked jihadist groups.
Asaad was one of the first officers to defect from the Syrian state military to the rebel forces, joining their ranks in 2011, not long after the uprising began.
He served as commander of the rebel forces but has seen his official role diminished by the creation of a rebel military command headed by Brigadier General Salim Idriss.
Asaad has remained a prominent figure though, regularly appearing with rebel fighters on the ground.