Colonel Riad al-Asaad, founder of the insurgent Free Syrian Army (FSA), had his leg severed by an explosion in rebel-controlled Syria in an apparent assassination attempt, opposition sources said on Monday (March 25th).

His wounds were not life-threatening and he was now in hospital in Turkey, a Turkish official said.

Asaad, who set up the FSA in 2011 to fight for the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad, was one of the first senior officers to defect from the Syrian military.

Syrian opposition sources said Asaad had been hit by a car bomb in the city of al-Mayadin, south of Deir al-Zor in eastern Syria. Al-Mayadin is controlled by several rebel groups, not all of them under the FSA umbrella group.

Asaad's deputy, Malik al-Kurdi, told the pan-Arab Al Jazeera news channel that he believed the Syrian government was responsible for what he said was an assassination attempt.

A bomb was placed under the car, directly below Asaad's seat, and he also sustained wounds to his face, Kurdi said.

Asaad was excluded from a Western-backed command of the FSA formed last year. Since his defection he has mostly lived with his family in a camp in Turkey along the Syrian border.

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