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Infamous heart-eating
Syria rebel killed

Abu Saqqar was gunned down by Ahrar al-Sham members in the Idlib province.

Khaled al-Hamad, also known as “Abu Saqqar." (YouTube)

BEIRUT – A Syrian insurgent commander in the Al-Nusra Front infamous for eating the heart of a dead regime soldier has been gunned by Ahrar al-Sham members in northwest Syria. 

 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Wednesday that Khaled al-Hamad—also known as “Abu Saqqar”—had been killed on the road between Idlib’s Harem and Salqin, the site of late January clashes between Syria’s two heavyweight Islamist factions.

 

The monitoring NGO tracking developments in the war-torn country said that a “group of people affiliated to an Islamist movement” assassinated Abu Saqqar, who was a military commander in the Nusra Front.

 

The SOHR did not name which faction Abu Saqqar’s killers belonged to, however opposition media said Ahrar al-Sham members had killed the rebel who gained notoriety in May 2013 for appearing in a video in which he cut out the heart of a regime fighter before placing it in his mouth. At the time, Abu Saqqar was still a member of the Independent Omar al Farouq Brigade.

 

Souria Moubasher reported that Abu Saqqar was shot dead in his car at a checkpoint in Harem by combatants claiming affiliation to Ahrar al-Sham.

 

Sources told the pro-rebel website that he was shot after resisting arrest, without going into further details.

 

Meanwhile, All4Syria published a more detailed version of the incident, saying that Ahrar al-Sham fighters in Harem stopped his car and attempted to detain Abu Saqqar, who refused their orders under the grounds he was not told the reason for his arrest.

 

Abu Saqqar then drove away from the checkpoint, activists told All4Syria, adding that a local Ahrar al-Sham commander ordered his men to follow the Nusra official.

 

“[The Ahrar members] pursued him until the Harem roundabout, [where] they shot [Abu Saqqar] on the spot as he tried to lift his firearm, leaving him covered in blood on the streets of the town,” the report claimed.

 

It added that locals transferred him to the nearby Salqin Hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds.

 

The small Idlib towns of Harem and Salqin witnessed a brief bout of firefights between Nusra and Ahrar in late January which threatened to boil over into greater violence between the two factions.

 

However, Ahrar and Nusra both agreed on face-saving mechanism to calm the simmering tensions. Both groups also reportedly reached an agreement to resolve the fallout of killing Abu Saqqar, which would see Ahrar dismantle its checkpoints while a judicial committee reviews the incident. 

 

NOW’s English news desk editor Albin Szakola (@AlbinSzakola) wrote this report. Amin Nasr translated Arabic-language source material.

Khaled al-Hamad, also known as “Abu Saqqar." (YouTube)

[The Ahrar members] pursued him until the Harem roundabout, [where] they shot [Abu Saqqar] on the spot as he tried to lift his firearm, leaving him covered in blood on the streets of the town.