Former Head of Rebels Injured in Car Accident

Riad al-Asaad, former head of the rebel Free Syrian Army, injured in accident outside Istanbul.

Elad Benari,

Free Syrian Army fighter
Free Syrian Army fighter

The former head of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) was injured in a car accident Tuesday that claimed the life of his son, pro-opposition media outlets said, according to the Lebanese Daily Star.

The accident involving Col. Riad al-Asaad, who headed the mainstream FSA during the early part of the armed uprising, took place some 30 kilometers outside Istanbul on the road to the Turkish capital Ankara, according to the report.

Reports said his son Mohammad was killed in the accident, while the Syrian National Coalition said Riad Asaad was in intensive care.

Asaad was also the target of a car bomb assassination attempt one year ago in Mayadin, Syria, in which his right leg was amputated.

Asaad, a former Colonel in the Syrian Air Force, defected on July 4, 2011 and established the FSA several weeks later.

He is one of many Syrian officers who have defected since March of 2011, when the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad began, before turning into a full-fledged civil war.

Since the start of the conflict between Assad's regime and rebel forces, dozens of senior army officers including some 40 generals have defected and headed to Turkey.

Some of the defectors have entered Jordan, such as the Syrian army's logistics chief, General Mohammed Khalluf, who reportedly defected to the Hashemite kingdom in March.

Former Syrian premier Riad Hijab defected to Jordan in August 2012.

One of the most senior members of the Assad regime to defect was Jihad Makdissi, the Syrian government's former spokesman who defected in late November.

Loyalist forces in Syria later torched Makdissi's home. Makdissi is a member of Syria's Christian minority which up to that point had largely backed the Assad regime.