Abdul Baset al-Sarout, a prominent Syrian opposition figure famous as “the singer of the revolution,” was killed by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in the northern Hama countryside.
Major Jamil al-Saleh, General Commander of Jaysh al-Izza, where al-Sarout was serving as a military commander, announced this development in the noon of June 8.
Opposition activists said that al-Sarout was severely injured on June 6 while he was participating in a large-scale attack on government-held areas in northern Hama. He was immediately transported to a hospital in southern Turkey. However, he died from his wounds.
Hours before receiving the fatal injury al-Sarout appeared in a video released by Tahir al-Omar, an opposition reporter. Al-Sarout threatened that he will invade Deir Ezzor, Homs and even Daraa.
“God’s willing, the Russian Air Force will be broken in our stronghold, Idlib … The revolution will return and expand,” al-Sarout says in the video.
Originally a professional football player from Homs, al-Sarout joined the protests in mid-2011. He became famous for his anti-regime songs and cheers. However, some of these cheers reflected his radical views. In 2011, France’s Canal+ released a report of Homs’ protests showing al-Sarout cheering “Homs has taken the decision, we will genocide the al-Awaites.”
Al-Sarout was among the first known figures in Homs to get arms against the SAA in late 2011. He participated in forming its own Free Syrian Army (FSA) group known as the Bayada Martyrs’ Brigade. During that period, he was featured in the 2013 war documentary The Return to Homs.
Following the defeat of the FSA in Homs in 2014, al-Sarout and his fighters withdrew from the city and later pledged allegiance to ISIS.
With the decline of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, al-Sarout moved to the northern governorate of Idlib, where he eventually enlisted in Jaysh al-Izza. The radical group is known for its close ties with Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the former branch of al-Qaeda in Syria.
Dubbed an “icon” of the so-called Syrian Revolution, the death of al-Sarout is for sure a major media blow to both the radical and moderate wings of the opposition.