A video smuggled over the Syrian border by a former rebel features a mass execution of government soldiers by the Jund al-Sham group fighting Assad. The latest example of rebel brutality comes as Washington prepares to intervene into the conflict.
The video, obtained by New York Times and which has gone viral online, is a mobile phone recording of an execution that took place in April.
Seven government soldiers are shown shirtless on their knees in somewhat fetal positions with their faces to the ground. Some have their hands tied behind their backs.
The video contains graphic scenes some viewers may find disturbing.
Rebels stand behind the condemned men, pointing their firearms down at them and listening to their leader chant the verdict.
“For 50 years, they are companions to corruption,” the commander of the group says. “We swear to the Lord of the Throne, that this is our oath: We will take revenge.”
Having pronounced that, the man shoots the soldier closest to him. Other gunmen immediately follow suit to execute the rest of the captured soldiers. The dead bodies are then dumped into a well.
The man who smuggled the video across the border is former assistant to the chief of the group, who says he defected from it because he could no longer stand atrocities performed by his brothers in arms, according to New York Times.
The runaway, concealing his identity for security reasons, explains the seven soldiers were executed after videos of them raping civilians and looting were found on their cell phones.
The group he belonged to is little-known and not large, consisting of 300 fighters. It’s called Jund al-Sham, sharing the name with three international terrorist groups.
The rebel commander is Abdul Samad Issa, 37, also known as ‘the Uncle’ because two of his deputies are his nephews. According to his defected assistant the man believes his father was killed during a 27-day government crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood in 1982, led by the father of Syria’s current president. Thus, fighting government forces now is partly a matter of personal revenge for Issa.
The video is one in a series of episodes raising questions over methods used by the rebel forces, some of which actually claim links to terrorists.
One of the groups, associating itself with Al-Qaeda attacked a Christian village on Wednesday.
In June, a teenage boy was allegedly executed by an Al-Qaeda-affiliated opposition group for supposedly blaspheming.
In May, the world was shocked to see a video of a Syrian rebel apparently eating the heart of a slain government soldier.