Horrific videos show rebel brutality in Syria
Published Monday, August 13, 2012
Horrific videos purportedly showing Syrian rebels throwing the bodies of postal workers off a roof and a man's throat being savagely cut triggered outrage among rights activists on Monday.
Three videos all showing the apparent atrocities in the province of Aleppo, including a bound man being repeatedly shot, were posted on YouTube on Monday but their authenticity could not immediately be verified.
Both sides in the 17-month conflict have been accused of human rights violations as reports of cold-blooded killings mount.
"What is the difference between them and a wild animal in the jungle? At least a wild animal does not kill unless it is hungry," said Massoud Akko, a Kurdish activist and co-founder of the Association of Syrian Journalists.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdelrahman, not his real name, said he strongly condemned such atrocities, whoever was behind them, if the videos were confirmed.
Graphic footage showed a crowd of people shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) as they gathered around several bodies on the ground before another three victims were seen being hurled from the top of the building.
The incident was said to have taken place in rebel-controlled al-Bab near the northern metropolis of Aleppo and the victims were identified as postal workers, but it was not clear when it occurred.
"These are the heroes of Bab city who are inside the post office," the man shooting the video said.
When the body of one man was thrown to the ground, the crowd is heard shouting: "This is a shabiha," referring to the pro-government militia.
The video could not be independently verified.
In another shocking amateur video, a blindfolded man, with his hands tied behind his back, struggled as a group of men forced him to lie down on a pavement in Aleppo.
The man calls out: "I would rather die by a bullet." A man retorts: "Shut up."
As the group chanted "Allahu Akbar," the assailant forced what appeared to be a small knife repeatedly across his throat as his blood spurted onto the pavement.
"This is the fate of all the shabiha and those who support Bashar (al-Assad)," said the man filming the video.
And a third clip, purportedly shot in Aazaz, also in Aleppo province, showed a bearded man being hauled out of a car boot with his hands tied behind his back and pushed to the ground.
One man opens fire on him with a small pistol, only to be joined by another with a rifle. They shoot many times at the man, who dies face down in a field.
"If these videos are confirmed, such atrocities harm the revolution. They only benefit the regime and the enemies of the revolution," Abdelrahman told AFP.
Online activists also condemned the killings, which highlight the escalating brutality of a conflict that started out as a peaceful uprising but which has deteriorated into a brutal civil war.
"What is the difference between them and those who kill your children, women and men? This is not a justified reaction at all!" said Akko.
Brothers Mohammed and Ahmed Malas, both dissident artists who live in exile, posted on their Facebook page: "You are killing in the name of God, it seems, but you are killing just like Assad kills. You do not know God."
In recent weeks, activists have frequently expressed concern about human rights abuses by the rebels, as well as repeated atrocities by the regime since it launched its brutal crackdown.
One protester in Aleppo on August 10 held up a poster reading: "Correcting the mistakes of the revolution and its path is necessary for its victory."
UN condemns journalist deaths
Another poster, held up by a protester in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr district, read: "O sweet Free Syrian Army, don't take me prisoner at your checkpoint."
Elsewhere, a pro-government Syrian TV station said on Monday one of its cameramen who was kidnapped three days ago was believed to be dead while others were being held by rebels near the capital Damascus.
The station said gunmen kidnapped the cameraman on Friday along with three other employees of the pro-regime al-Ikhbariya TV while covering the violence in the Damascus suburb of al-Tal.
The three surviving members of the team appeared in an online video, saying they were being held by rebel forces who were treating them well.
A man who identified himself as a rebel spokesman also appeared in the video, saying the cameraman and two members of the Free Syrian Army rebel group were killed in government shelling while on a tour in al-Tal to shoot destruction in the area.
It was impossible to independently verify the events shown in the video. But the general manager of al-Ikhbariya TV said they believed the cameraman was dead.
The head of the United Nations observer mission in Syria on Monday condemned attacks on the media.
"Whatever the country, the UN is committed to the freedom of the press and the media," General Babacar Gaye told reporters in Damascus.
"In this country, the press has a tremendous role to play, so we condemn any violence on the media coming from any side," he said, also accusing both the army and rebels of failing to protect civilians.
In June, gunmen raided al-Ikhbariya's headquarters, killing seven employees.
Journalists have suffered a number of casualties in the 17-month-old uprising against President Bashar Assad, and in recent months there have been several attacks on pro-regime media.
On Saturday, a reporter for state-run news agency SANA was killed in his Damascus home, while another working for the pan-Arab Al-Arabiya TV was killed in a blast in al-Tal.
The deaths came as activists reported clashes and shelling between government troops and rebels in areas including Damascus and its suburbs, the central province of Homs, and the southern region of Deraa.
(Al-Akhbar, AP, AFP)