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Activists: Bomb Wounds Syrian Rebel Commander

  • VOA News

Damaged buildings are pictured after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Zamalka near Damascus, Mar. 16, 2013.

Damaged buildings are pictured after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Zamalka near Damascus, Mar. 16, 2013.

Syrian activists say a car bomb in eastern Syria has wounded a top rebel commander who was among the first to defect from Syria's military.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the explosion Monday in the town of Mayadeen injured Riad al-Asaad. Activists say Asaad's leg was severed and that he is in stable condition in Turkey.

Assad fled his top military post in 2011 and became a leader of the rebel Free Syria Army.

In Damascus, mortar shells have struck Umayyad Square, an area that is home to a military headquarters, a hotel and a state television building.

A state media outlet said the shelling killed one person and wounded others, while the state-run SANA news agency said the mortar shells wounded six people.

Also Monday, Mouaz al-Khatib, who resigned as head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, said he will still attend an Arab League meeting this week in Qatar.

Khatib said he will deliver an address at the two-day summit in Doha, which begins Tuesday.

Arab diplomats said Sunday the Arab League had invited Khatib and interim prime minister Ghassan Hitto to represent Syria at the meeting. The Arab League suspended the Syrian government's membership in the bloc in 2011 and most members have called for President Bashar al-Assad's ouster.

Khatib stepped down Sunday, complaining that the international community has not done enough to help the Syrian people defend themselves from Mr. Assad's forces.

Khatib said he was keeping a promise to resign if members of his coalition crossed certain "red lines." He did not say what those were. Khatib had objected to last week's coalition appointment of Hitto as an interim prime minister for rebel-held parts of Syria.

The opposition's turmoil deepened with a rebel spokesman inside Syria saying the mainstream Free Syrian Army refuses to recognize Hitto's authority as prime minister. Louay Almokdad told Western news agencies that Hitto was not properly elected because there was no consensus on his candidacy.

Hitto received a majority of 35 votes out of 48 cast at the meeting, but several prominent coalition members boycotted the vote, accusing him of being a pawn of Syria's Muslim Brotherhood and outside powers such as Qatar.

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