Riad al-Ahmad, an Army lieutenant when Syria's revolution began, defected to the rebels' side early in the conflict. In Latakia, the coastal stronghold of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Ahmad made a name for himself as a bold and reliable commander. As his stature grew, he attracted funds from foreign donors, a coveted resource in the rebels' desperate war effort, which he used to arm his fighters. In late January, Ahmad was resting in the Turkish city of Antakya, 12 miles from the Syrian border, when he received a call from a man who said he had money to donate. Ahmad went out to meet the man—and disappeared.
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