Goalkeeper turned rebel fighter dies in northwest Syria

Abdel-Basset al-Sarout
Abdel-Basset al-Sarout

A Syrian goalkeeper turner rebel fighter who starred in an award-winning documentary died Saturday of wounds sustained fighting regime forces in northwestern Syria, his faction and a war monitor said.

Abdel-Bassetal-Sarout, 27, was a goalkeeper from the central city of Homs, who became itsmost popular singer of protest songs after the Syrian uprising broke out inMarch 2011.

Following a brutalgovernment crackdown on peaceful protests, he took up arms against the forcesof President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

Sarout starred in thedocumentary "Return to Homs" by Syrian director Talal Derki, whichtracked his evolution from protest leader to fighter, and won a top prize atthe Sundance film festival in 2014.

Jameel al-Saleh, thecommander of the rebel faction Jaish al-Izza, announced Sarout's death in amessage on Twitter, describing him as a "martyr" who died"fighting for the sake of God".

The message wasaccompanied by a video showing Sarout singing "We will be back,Homs".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sarout was wounded in clashes in the northern Hama countryside in the night of Thursday to Friday while fighting in the ranks of Jaish al-Izza.

"He died of hiswounds on Saturday," the head of the Britain-based Observatory, Rami AbdelRahman, said.

Sarout was evacuatedfrom Homs in 2014 under a surrender deal with the regime to end a two-yearsiege of its historical centre, according to the Observatory.

His father and four ofhis siblings were killed during bombardment and clashes in Homs, it said.

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