Mon, Jun 10, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Goalkeeper turned rebel dies in Syria after battle injuries

AFP, BINNISH, Syria

A Syrian goalkeeper turned rebel fighter who starred in an award-winning documentary died on Saturday of wounds sustained fighting regime forces in northwestern Syria, his faction said.

Abdel-Basset al-Sarout, 27, was among dozens of fighters killed since Thursday in clashes on the edges of the Idlib region.

About 215 fighters from both sides have been killed in the fighting, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

That number includes 65 regime fighters, as well as 48 militants and allied rebels on Saturday alone.

The region, dominated by an alliance led by Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate, is supposed to be protected by a months-old buffer zone deal, but it has come under deadly regime bombardment in recent weeks.

Before Syria’s eight-year civil war, Sarout, from the central city of Homs, was a goalkeeper for the nation’s youth soccer team.

When demonstrations began against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in 2011, he joined them and soon became a popular singer of protest songs.

Following a government crackdown on the protests, he took up arms.

Sarout starred in the documentary Return to Homs by Syrian director Talal Derki, which tracked his evolution from protest leader to fighter and won a top prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2014.

Jameel al-Saleh, commander of the rebel faction Jaish al-Izza, announced Sarout’s death in a message on Twitter, describing him as a “martyr.”

Another of the group’s commanders, Mahmoud al-Mahmoud, also confirmed the fighter’s death.

“He was a well-mannered young man and one of the fiercest fighters I have known,” he told reporters.

He said the fighter had been wounded two days previously in the battle for Tal Maleh, a village in the north of Hama province.

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