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Missile strike wounds rebel commander near Damascus-activists

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Wed, 20 Feb 2013 11:02 GMT
Author: Reuters
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AMMAN, Feb 20 (Reuters) - A missile struck the command centre of the main Syrian rebel force near the capital Damascus on Wednesday, wounding its leader, activists said.

The attack on Liwa al-Islam Brigade, which is spearheading a a three-week-old offensive that has given the rebels a foothold inside Damascus, deals a blow to efforts to undermine President Bashar al-Assad in his seat of power.

A rebel spokesman said Sheikh Zahran Alloush, founder of the Liwa al-Islam brigade, was wounded but declined to give details.

"We cannot disclose Sheikh Zahran's condition," said the spokesman, Islam Alloush, who is also his cousin.

Activists said the early morning strike took place near the northern Damascus suburb of Douma. The rocket, possibly a Scud-type ballistic missile, devastated the area and killed or wounded other fighters, they said.

A rebel commander fighting with Liwa al-Islam in Damascus said: "It would be a great loss if Sheikh Alloush is killed. Liwa al-Islam is the most powerful on the ground and Sheikh Alloush is the brains behind its strength."

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

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