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Top FSA leader killed by ISIS

Ahmad al-Abdo Martyrs Forces commander Baouk Salim was reportedly killed in a suicide bombing on the edge of Syria's desert.

Bakour Salim. (Image circulating social media)

BEIRUT – The leader of a Free Syrian Army-affiliated force operating in the remote stretches of central Syria has been killed in an ISIS attack following recent advances by the US-backed rebels against the jihadist group.  

 

A suicide bomber dispatched by ISIS detonated himself Thursday at dawn in an Ahmad al-Abdo Martyrs Forces position in the Eastern Qalamoun Mountains on the edge of the country’s vast semi-desert, killing Colonel Bakour Salim, according to a statement issued by the High Negotiations Committee.

 

The HNC, which is representing the Syrian opposition in the stalled Geneva peace talks, mourned the death of Salim, who was a member of the Saudi-backed diplomatic body that was formed in Riyadh in December 2015.

 

“Colonel Salim devoted his life to defend the Syrian people,” it said in honor of the leader of the Ahmad al-Abdo Martyrs Forces, a little-known group that reportedly receives support from the US and Jordan.

 

The exact circumstances of Salim’s death remain uncertain, with the Ahmad al-Abdo Martyrs Forces telling the pro-rebel Smart News Agency that he died from wounds suffered from a blast that detonated during clashes with ISIS.

 

However, the rebel group did not provide further details to the outlet and has yet to issue an official statement on the matter.

 

Enab Baladi, another pro-opposition news outlet, noted that activists were saying he was either killed in ISIS shelling or a suicide bombing.

 

Recent Ahmad al-Abdo Martyrs Forces gains

 

Convoy

Ahmad al-Abdo Martyrs Forces on the move in the Syrian desert. (Facebook/Ahmad al-Abdo Martyrs Forces)

 

Salim’s death comes on the heels of recent gains by the Ahmad al-Abdo Martyrs Forces against ISIS in the desert region east of the Syrian capital.

 

The group announced on June 5 that it seized an ISIS position in Tal Makhoul, which serves as the first line of defense for the nearby Tal Dikweh. Only days before, the al-Abdo Martyrs Forces announced  that its fighters seized the Zaza and Kabad checkpoints northeast of the Bir al-Qassab region in the country’s vast semi-desert following a “surprise operation.”

 

“[We] expelled ISIS members from the region, killing 10 of their fighters while capturing two of them as the rest fled toward… the desert,” the group claimed in a statement posted on its Facebook page.

 

A spokesperson for the Ahmad al-Abdo Martyrs Forces spoke with the activist Local Coordination Committees about the fighting, saying that a foreign ISIS commander had been killed in the battle.

 

Saeed Saif claimed that ISIS had running an operations room at the captured checkpoints, adding that the Zaza point carried “strategic importance” since it was a linking point for ISIS fighters.

 

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also covered the desert battle, reporting that a rebel group—which would not name—had killed a number of ISIS fighters during its fight to seize the Zaza and Kabad checkpoints.

 

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

Ahmad al-Abdo Martyrs Forces leader Bakour Salim. (Image circulating social media)

Colonel Salim devoted his life to defend the Syrian people.