Syrian rebel group demands hand-over of slaying suspect by faction

Syrian rebels head to the town of Bsankol in the northwestern province of Idlib to join comrades fighting government forces for the control of the highway that connects Idlib with Latakia on Thursday.
(Daniel Leal Olivas / AFP/Getty Images)

BEIRUT -- The principal U.S.-backed Syrian rebel group is requesting that an Islamist insurgent faction hand over the suspected killer of one of its commanders in an incident that has highlighted tensions among the allies fighting to overthrow the Syrian government.

“We demand that the perpetrators of this heinous crime be handed over to be tried by an independent judicial commission,” Louay Meqdad, a spokesman for the Free Syrian Army, said Saturday in a telephone interview from Istanbul. “If they don’t, then we will take measures.”

The spokesman did not elaborate on the “measures,” but the killing last week of FSA commander Kamal Hamami, allegedly by an Islamistrebel group, has spurred outrage in the FSA leadership.


The FSA blames a powerful rebel faction, known the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which is linked to Al Qaeda. The FSA commander was shot dead Thursday in a rebel-held stretch of northwest Syria in what appeared to be a turf battle, according to various accounts.

The killing has spurred fears of a “civil war within the civil war” should FSA and Al Qaeda-affiliated rebel groups enter into open conflict. But the FSA spokesman did not directly threaten retaliation.

“We at the FSA are not after attacking anyone but the regime,” said Meqdad, the FSA spokesman, referring to the government of President Bashar Assad. “But if anyone believes that they can attack the cadres of the FSA without a response then they are wrong.”

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Bulos is a special correspondent