KOBANI, Syrian Kurdistan (Kurdistan24) – On Sunday, a Syrian Kurdish commander of a rebel battalion affiliated with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) lost his life after being shot by a sniper of the Islamic State (IS) group east of the town of Manbij.
The commander and founder of Northern Sun Battalion (known as Shams al-Shamal in Arabic) affiliated with FSA, Faisal Sadoun (known as Abu Layla), was shot on Friday in the operation launched by the US-backed, Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to liberate the northern Syrian town of Manbij, a key IS stronghold northwest of Aleppo.
“Abu Layla was shot on Friday by an IS sniper in the village of Khafya Abu Qalqal on the outskirts of Manbij while he was backing his fellows on Sunday,” said the leadership of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) in a statement released on Monday.
Abu Layla was then transported by a US military helicopter on Friday to a hospital in the city of Sulaimani in Kurdistan Region of Iraq and succumbed to his wounds on Sunday.
“We, the leadership of YPG, consider Aby Layla not only a commander of FSA, but also one of our commanders and we offer our condolences to his family,” the YPG statement said.
Speaking to Kurdistan24, Mustafa Ebdi, a Syrian Kurdish journalist and activist based in the Kurdish-held town of Kobani, said on Monday that the death of Abu Layla is a significant loss.
“Abu Layla fought on multiple fronts against both the Syrian regime and IS. He fought the regime in Aleppo’s Kurdish neighborhoods of Sheikh Maqsoud and Ashrafiya, and then he fought the IS insurgents in Manbij, al Bab, Qaraqozaq, Ain Issa, Tal Abyad and Kobani,” Ebdi said.
Additionally, the leadership of the SDF changed the name of the title of “Manbij liberation operation” into “Martyr Abu Layla operation” since he was leading the Manbij Military Council which participates in the operation with the SDF.
Abu Layla was one of the founders of the Manbij Military Council which is an ally of the SDF.
[Layla Faisal Sadoun, the eldest daughter of Abu Layla, walks in her father's funeral, Kobani, Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), Syria, June 6, 2016. (Photo: Mustafa Abdi blog)]
Responding to Abu Layla’s death, Bret McGurk, the United States' new envoy to the coalition it leads against IS, offered his condolences to the Free Syrian Army in a tweet on his twitter page.
On May 31, the SDF launched the operation of Manbij liberation, and up to the present moment, dozens of villages have been liberated in the surrounding areas of Manbij in addition to releasing a number of Yazidi (Ezidi) families.
Reporting by Hisham Arafat
Editing by Ava Homa