Seven captured soldiers were executed by rebels in Syria in a video that was smuggled out of the country.
The Syrian soldiers with their faces pressed to the ground in the video apparently were taken prisoner when rebels overran an Assad government checkpoint.
The incident (see embed above) reportedly took place in Syria’s Idlib province and was turned over to the New York Times by a fighter who became disillusioned with the rebel movement.
The Times explains that “This scene, documented in a video smuggled out of Syria a few days ago by a former rebel who grew disgusted by the killings, offers a dark insight into how many rebels have adopted some of the same brutal and ruthless tactics as the regime they are trying to overthrow. As the United States debates whether to support the Obama administration’s proposal that Syrian forces should be attacked for using chemical weapons against civilians, this video, shot in April, joins a growing body of evidence of an increasingly criminal environment populated by gangs of highwaymen, kidnappers and killers.”
In testimony on Capitol Hill in favor of a military strike on Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry insisted that only about 20 percent of the rebel fighters in Syria’s civil war were “bad guys” or extremists and the rest are so-called moderates.
Apart from the opposition to getting entangled in yet another Middle East war, much of the strong resistance to bombing Syria in Congress and among the general public is that intervening against the Bashar Assad regime puts the US in a position of helping Al Qaeda-linked rebels.
With regard to the execution video, the Times added that the rebel commander’s group have “taken a resonant name: Jund al-Sham, which it shares with three international terrorist groups, and another group in Syria. Its relationship — if any — with these other groups is not clear.”
A report by Reuters also suggests that Kerry’s claims about moderates vs. extremists may be optimistic. “Secretary of State John Kerry’s public assertions that moderate Syrian opposition groups are growing in influence appear to be at odds with estimates by U.S. and European intelligence sources and nongovernmental experts, who say Islamic extremists remain by far the fiercest and best-organized rebel elements.”
Some rebel groups have also been accused of attacking Syria’s Christian community.