Key Free Syria Army rebel ‘killed by Islamist rival’

A senior member of the Free Syrian Army is reported to have been killed by a rival rebel group linked to al-Qaeda.

Kamal Hamami, of the group’s Supreme Military Council, was meeting members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant “to discuss battle plans”.

A Free Syrian Army spokesman said he received a call from the Islamic State saying they had killed Kamal Hamami.

It is part of an escalating struggle within the armed uprising between moderates and Islamists.

Such infighting has led to concerns over plans by Western and Arab nations to arm the rebels in their bid to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

Factional fighting

Mr Hamami, also known as Abu Bassel al-Ladkani, had been meeting members of the Islamic State in the port city of Latakia “to discuss battle plans”, Free Syrian Army spokesman Qassem Saadeddine said.

“The Islamic State phoned me saying that they killed Abu Bassel and that they will kill all of the Supreme Military Council,” he told Reuters news agency.

There have been many other such incidents in this factional fighting, the BBC’s Paul Woods reports from neighbouring Lebanon.

It is partly a battle over spoils and partly ideological, pitting the secular Free Syrian Army against Islamists who want to establish a theocracy, he adds.

The Free Syrian Army was formed in 2011 by army deserters based in Turkey and is said to have some 40,000 members.

Although they have had some successes in the fight against President Assad’s forces, they say they will be unable to win the war unless they acquire more sophisticated weaponry.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is one of the main groups in Syria linked to al-Qaeda, and has contributed to the spread of Sharia in rebel-held areas.