Syrian rebel chief loses leg in car bomb attack
THE leader of the rebel Free Syrian Army has been seriously wounded in an apparent assassination attempt in a sign of the growing factionalism and revenge attacks in the war-torn country.
Col Riad al-Asaad, the founder of the FSA, was rushed to hospital after an explosion detonated in or close to his car during a trip to rebel-held eastern Syria.
He reportedly had a leg amputated after the attack, which came as he travelled through the town of Mayadeen in eastern Deir al-Zour province on Sunday night.
It was unclear who was behind the attack, but activists in the local area noted that it could have been a rival rebel group.
Ous al-Arabi, a local journalist, claimed that another senior FSA commander had suffered a similar assassination attempt when he visited the province last month.
"This is the season of assassinations here in Syria," he said.
When Col Asaad publicised the rise of an armed insurgency in October 2011, he had brimmed with optimism. "We are the future army of the new Syria," he said at the time.
Almost 18 months later, Col Asaad has long been sidelined and his dream of a united opposition "rebel army" has given way to more than 1,000 different armed factions governed by rival warlords.
The attack coincided with an announcement by the UN that it is to cut the number of its foreign staff members in Syria after mortar shells fell near their hotel in Damascus amid intensified fighting. (© Daily Telegraph, London)