Top Syrian rebel dies after airstrike

AFP-JIJI

The head of the Syrian rebel Tawhid Brigade has died of wounds suffered in a regime airstrike last week, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday.

“Abdel Qader Saleh, known as Hajji Marea, died of wounds he sustained last Thursday when warplanes targeted the Tawhid leadership,” the Observatory said in a statement. “He was taken to Turkey after being wounded, and died in a hospital there before being brought back to Syria for burial.”

Saleh, chief of operations for the Tawhid Brigade, was widely seen as the group’s most important figure. His death comes as the Syrian regime makes new gains in Aleppo.

“As an individual, he was very, very important, certainly in the Aleppo area, but increasingly as an individual that many in Syria felt represented the revolution,” said Charles Lister, an analyst at IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center.

Lister said Saleh’s death would be “a very significant blow” to the opposition, but added that it could “spur on the rebels to launch a counterattack as the regime advances.”