Abdul Baset al-Sarout
|Date of birth||January 2, 1992|
|Place of birth||Homs, Syria|
|Date of death||June 8, 2019(aged 27)|
|Place of death||Reyhanlı, Turkey|
Abdul Baset al-Sarout
|Allegiance|| Syrian opposition|
|Years of service||2012–2019|
|Unit||Bayada Martyrs' Brigade|
|Battles/wars||Syrian Civil War|
In addition to being a soccer star, he led demonstrations in his home town Homs, where for a period of time he hosted the actress Fadwa Soliman, with whom he held rallies demanding the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as well as other general demands of the Syrian uprising. As violence erupted between pro and anti-government groups, all four of his brothers were killed by Syrian security forces. His uncle, Mohiey Edden al-Sarout, was killed In November 2011 in Homs. He became well known for his chants during anti-government demonstrations. Initially, his speeches and chants were mostly nationalist in nature, but in line with the rising influence of islamism among Syrian rebel groups, they gradually adopted more overtly religious and sectarian undertones. During the Siege of Homs from 2011–14, he became a Syrian rebel commander.
The Arab-speaking media network Al Jazeera described him as a "well known icon in the Syrian uprising", as well as "the Guardian of the Revoltion". After the disintegration of the Free Syrian Army, he became a commander in the Islamist rebel group Jaysh al-Izza.
Al-Sarout survived at least three assassination attempts during his role as a rebel commander. During one attempt 50 fighters from his unit, the Bayada Martyrs' Brigade, were killed. He was featured in the 2013 war documentary The Return to Homs.
In November 2015, al-Sarout and the Bayada Martyrs' Brigade came into conflict with al-Qaeda's al-Nusra Front. Nusra attacked Sarout and his fighters over a claim that Sarout had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Al-Sarout denied the claim, but admitted he had considered joining ISIL, as he started viewing the jihadist group as the only force capable of fighting the Syrian Government. He stated that he gave up on joining the group after realizing that it was primarily concerned with setting up a caliphate, rather than fighting the government. He added that while he didn't join the militant group, he would also refuse to fight against it.
On 29 May 2017, Sarout was arrested by Tahrir al-Sham after being accused of participating in an anti-HTS protest in Maarat al-Nu'man. He was released on 24 June and charges against him were dropped.
He died on 8 June 2019, during the 2019 Northwestern Syria offensive, after engaging in combat with the Syrian Army at Tell Malah village. According to a Jayish al-Izza spokesperson, as well as the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, he died in a Turkish hospital in Reyhanlı, Hatay from wounds sustained two days prior, when he was struck by Syrian Army artillery, after his unit clashed with the army in northern Hama. He was taken a day later to the village of Al-Dana in rebel-held northwestern Syria, to be buried with one of his deceased brothers.
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