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Star soccer player turned rebel icon dies in Syria fighting

A Syrian star soccer player turned fighter who became an icon of the revolt died on Saturday (June 8) after getting injured battling government forces in the northwest, his faction said.

Abdelbasset Sarout, 27, once a well-known goalkeeper from the city of Homs, gained a new kind of fame when the popular uprising against Bashar al-Assad’s rule erupted in 2011.

He was dubbed the “singer of the revolution” for chanting songs at rallies that eulogised slain protesters or vilified the president.

After the crackdown on protests, Sarout took up arms against the state, mirroring how the rebellion evolved into an armed struggle seen as a fight to the death as much by Damascus as by the guerrilla bands spawned by the conflict.

Sarout, a commander in the Jaish al-Izza rebel faction, died two days after sustaining injuries in battle in the northern Hama countryside. Four of Sarout’s brothers, as well as his father, had all died in earlier fighting against pro-government forces.

(Production: Aiden Nulty)

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