Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander Kamal Hamami, also known as Abu Basir al-Ladkani, was shot dead following a meeting with the Al-Qaeda militants in the Syrian port city of Latakia on July 11th.
Also a Supreme Military Council member, Hamami was meeting with members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) , FSA spokesman Qassem Saadeddine informed Reuters. Spokesman added that ISIL, an Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, has threatened to kill all of the group’s senior commanders.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group is the umbrella organization for a long list of insurgency groups, including members linked to Al-Qaeda and various other groups that wish to establish a unified Islamic theocracy within the majority Sunni regions of Iraq.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader (emir) of the ISIL, went to Northern Syria to take control over Al-Qaeda operations in the country. Syrian opposition front says Al-Baghdadi is more interested in imposing radical Islam than overthrowing the current government.
FSA claims that Abu Ayman al-Baghdadi personally shot dead Hamami and his brother at the roadblock. In turn, the FSA issued an ultimatum to ISIL: turn over Abu Ayman al Baghdadi, the Al Qaeda emir in the Latakia region who executed the FSA commander, or face “justice”.
The FSA spokesman interviewed by Al Jazeera in the video attached makes some bold threats, and then makes a plea to the “international community” to arm the rebels.
The Islamist Al-Nusra Front merged with ISIL in May, soon after Al-Nusra was officially declared a “terrorist group” by the US. The group is considered to be the most effective opposition group battling Assad.
Hamami’s murder indicates a widening fracture between the members of foreign-backed militants who are fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Syrian opposition consists of many diverse groups, including those incorporating radical Islamists from abroad affiliated with Al-Qaeda.
A senior rebel commander with close ties to the Al-Nusra Front told Reuters, “Nusra is now two Nusras. One that is pursuing Al-Qaeda’s agenda of a greater Islamic nation, and another that is Syrian with a national agenda to help us fight Assad.”
In recent months, the US has agreed to step up support for moderate Syrian rebels in their battle against President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, but many in the West are nervous about heavy weaponry falling into the hands of radical groups.
According to a report in Yalibnan News, the leader of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has urged its fighters to strive for an Islamic state in Syria. But, the spread of Sharia in rebel-held areas has alarmed the moderate members of the opposition, who, despite being Muslims, do not want a religious state.
The Syrian civil war which began on March 15, 2011, as part of the wider Middle Eastern protest movement known as the Arab Spring, has no clear fronts, with clashes taking place in many towns and cities across the country. In June 2013, the UN human rights council updated the death toll to 92,900–100,000 of which about half were civilians.