Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Important Syrian oppostion fighter killed

Abdel Qader Saleh
In a serious setback for the Syrian opposition fighters, a prominent rebel leader on Sunday died in a Turkish hospital of wounds he earlier suffered in an air raid. Abdelqader Saleh, head of the Qatar-backed Sunni Islamist al-Tawhid Brigades, had been working on regrouping fighters in Aleppo before he was killed. Saleh was wounded when the Syrian regime bombed a meeting of Liwaa al-Tawhid leaders. A number of the leaders were killed 
duri ng that attack, the top leaders, Abd al-Qader al-Saleh and Abd Aziz Salameh were both injured. 
Aron Lund writes on the blog Syria Comment: 
''Abdel Qader Saleh’s death is big news. He was one of the founders of the Tawhid Brigade in July 2012, when the group came together from a constellation of local units in the northern Syrian countryside to charge into Aleppo. The core of the group was a number of commanders from Anadan (including Abdelaziz Salame and Abu Tawfiq). Many, including Saleh, had a background as participants in the peaceful protests against Assad, but by the time of Tawhid’s creation all of them had grown into important local military leaders. Politically he was an Islamist, who made no bones about seeking sharia law in Syria. But he was clearly not part of the radical fundamentalist camp.''
Lund writes that the Tawhid Brigade remains the most important group in the Aleppo region, and by virtue of Aleppo’s importance, is certainly one of the most important rebel factions in Syria. After some reorganizations, it consists of around 30 “divisions”, and claims to control a total manpower well above 10,000 soldiers. But as it is a kind of umbrella movement formed out of regional militias, Saleh’s death could endanger Tawhid's cohesion. The group might end up losing subunits and fighters to other groups, supposedly more hardline Islamist factions.

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