Translation: One Day in the Life of the Syrian Opposition

Komsomolskaya Pravda’s Alexander Kots writes about the mounting savagery of the Syrian civil war, citing the now infamous video of the Free Syrian Army fighter eating the heart of a government soldier as a case in point.

Weekdays of the Syrian Opposition: Cut out the Heart, and Eat It

More and more videos from combat zones are appearing on the Web. From both sides.

“I swear we will rip out your hearts and livers, and eat them, you dogs of Bashar,” says a Free Syrian Army fighter in a shaky video clip. He then cold-bloodedly opens up the chest cavity of a dead government soldier, before diving in with his bare hands. He draws out a misshapen lump that happens to be the heart from the mutilated body, and demonstratively digs his teeth into it. “Look upon the heroes of Baba Amr, slaughtering the Alawites and devouring their hearts,” the cannibal exclaims.  A chorus of voices behind the camera support him: “Allahu Akbar!”

No doubt this episode will sooner or later appear in some Hollywood thriller about how the freedom-loving Syrian people overthrew the hated dictatorship, with the cannibal role played by some scumbag from the government troops. But for now, the truth of the matter is that the tapes released this week show none other than the head of the opposition Al Farooq al-Mustakilla Brigade, Khalid al-Hamad (though he prefers to name himself in the Arabic style: Abu Sakkar). His militia consists of up to 60 infantrymen from the Baba Amr district of Homs – that is, those same thugs who were terrorizing the Christian quarters of the city, razing churches and inscribing “Alawites into coffins, Christians to Beirut” on the walls.

The video’s authenticity has already been confirmed by the commander of the Free Syrian Army in Homs, Tariq al Sayed, though he insisted that it was an isolated case. But the latter claim is open to question, considering that the number of online videos displaying their animal savagery is increasing in a geometric progression, as was the case with Libya. The only difference, perhaps, is that if in the former Jamahiriya the inhuman carnage lacked a religious tinge, in Syria it carries a pronounced sectarian character.

The other day, for instance, 13 Christian women were brutally raped and tortured to death in Aleppo. YouTube is full of videos of mass executions of Alawites, both soldiers and civilians. Reveling in their own impunity, the blood-intoxicated fighters slice off ears, decapitate people… They even bring children to their medieval executions. In one of the videos, a senior comrade is shown presenting a machete to a young kid, before pointing to a bound body on the ground. The lad hacks with skill or finesse, botching the initiation and turning the victim’s last minutes into a hellish torture. But no matter. The Chechen mujahideen, in town for a skills exchange, are very good at cutting off heads. Nor do they forget to pose for the camera while doing so either.

In the era of information warfare, videos from cell phones have become just as much a weapon as the Kalashnikov rifle. And it would be unfair to attribute all the “glory” on this “field of battle” to the insurgents. It is likewise possible to find the “performances” of government soldiers on YouTube. Here, a fighter frenziedly uses a long knife to turn the lifeless body of a rebel into a sieve. There, a pro-Assad detachment bursts into a rebel field hospital, and begins to taunt the wounded. There are all kinds of videos in which prisoners are tortured and women are beaten. Though, needless to say, the authenticity of these reels are, at times, open to question. As is the info-propaganda of the opposition. For example, there once appeared a sensational photo of a young girl who appeared to have had an Orthodox cross pounded into her mouth. On closer examination, it turned out to be a fake… or more precisely, the photo itself was real enough, but it had been made not in Syria but somewhere in the expanses of the former Yugoslavia. In one of the Serb enclaves, overrun by Albanian butchers.

“The ubiquity of camera phones and social media are enabling a mixture of propaganda, intimidation and boastful exhibitionism,” goes one article in Time magazine, dedicated to the cannibal video. “They film these atrocities, passing them from phone to phone. Provoking a terrible competition between the two sides.”

“When people see these acts of brutality and mutilation, it leaves deep scars, and there will be a temptation to replicate it in revenge,” confirms Peter Bouckaert, the director of emergencies for the organization Human Rights Watch. “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth… Quite a few fighters in Syria interpret that literally.”

In these circumstances, the international community – wishing to continue helping the armed opposition – faces a tough dilemma. According to Bouckaert, there is enough documented evidence of extrajudicial killings, torture and desecration on the part of the rebels that it would be near impossible to know for certain who, exactly, are the “good” guys. “In this context, where different rebel groups are fighting alongside each other, and sharing weapons, it’s difficult to control where the weapons end up. It is very likely that some of the weapons will end up in the hands of the likes of Abu Sakkar.”

Translator’s Note

KP didn’t publish a link to the video out of “moral and ethical considerations.” A respectable stance, but anybody can find it easily enough, so we might as well save you the trouble.

Needless to say it’s NSFW, and repugnant in the extreme.

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