Turf war feared after Syrian rebel leader killed
By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
AMMAN (Reuters) - The killing of a senior Islamist rebel commander near Syria's border with Turkey could indicate a turf war between armed groups that will hamper their struggle to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, sources told Reuters.
Thaer al-Waqqas, northern commander of al-Farouq Brigades, one of Syria's largest rebel groups, was shot dead at a rebel-held position in the town of Sermin, a few kilometres from Turkey, early on Wednesday morning, rebel sources said.
Al-Waqqas, they said, had been suspected of involvement in the killing four months ago of Firas al-Absi, a main jihadist leader in al Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, which Washington dubbed a terrorist organization in December.
In addition to chronic supply problems and a shortage of financing and heavy weapons, the lack of unity among Syria's rebels has held back their efforts to dislodge Assad's forces.
"The assassins came in a white car, disembarked and riddled Waqqas with bullets as he was at a food supply depot," one of the rebels said.
He said suspicion immediately turned on Nusra.
"Absi's brother is a commander in (the city of) Homs. He vowed revenge for Firas, and it seems that he has carried out his promise," the rebel said.
"Farouq is in a period of mourning now. But it seems a matter of time before the clashes with Nusra erupt in Bab al-Hawa," he added, referring to the rebel-held border crossing with Turkey where Absi was killed. Continued...