Russian airstrikes kill 60, including rebel commander: activists
BEIRUT: Russian airstrikes in Syria’s Latakia province killed a top rebel commander from a group armed by President Bashar Assad’s foreign enemies, an activist group said Tuesday, in addition to 59 others.
Spokesman for the First Coastal Division rebel group Fadi Ahmad said that 60 civilians and combatants had been killed in airstrikes Monday evening in the Jabal Akrad area, which is held by the group – 15 more than the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights’ previous estimation. The attack marked the third time Russian war planes have targeted the First Coastal Division group since Moscow began its airstrikes in support of President Bashar Assad on Sept. 30, Ahmad said.
The group, which fights under the banner of a loose alliance of factions known as the “Free Syrian Army,” confirmed the death of its chief of staff, Basil Zamo, formerly a captain in the Syrian military.
The First Coastal Division is one of several groups that has received foreign military support under a program supported by the United States, including U.S.-made anti-tank missiles, the most potent weapon in the rebels’ arsenal.
In some cases the support has included military training by the Central Intelligence Agency. Assad’s main foreign foes include Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
Ahmad said a fighter trained in the use of the anti-tank TOW missiles had also been killed. The Russian jets had struck one of the group’s headquarters, and then struck the same target again after rescue workers had arrived on the scene.
“They have hit us three times now. They are hitting us on the grounds of Daesh, but they are hitting the ones who do them most damage – the Free Syrian Army,” said Ahmad, speaking from the area via an internet messaging system.
Daesh is an Arabic name for ISIS.
FSA groups, often led by former Syrian army officers, have widely been eclipsed by jihadists including
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