Syrian Anti-Regime Forces Carry Out Mass Executions

Anti-Assad forces are committing atrocities in Aleppo.

Anti-Assad forces are committing atrocities in Aleppo.

NYT (“Soldiers’ Mass Execution Reported By Syria Group“):

Islamist extremists in Syria’s insurgency killed 150 soldiers in a battle for control of an Aleppo suburb this week, including 51 who were executed after they had surrendered, according to a Syrian monitoring group that has been chronicling casualties and evidence of atrocities.

The group, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which sympathizes with the opposition and reports daily tallies of combat and violence from a network of contacts on the ground in Syria, corroborated its assertion on Friday with a video posted on the Internet.

The video, dated Wednesday, showed what appeared to be an execution ground, with dozens of lifeless bodies clumped against a wall pockmarked with bullet holes. The video’s authenticity could not be independently confirmed, but Rami Abdulrahman, the Syrian Observatory founder, quoted witnesses as saying 51 soldiers taken prisoner were later shot. Among the total who had surrendered, he said, “very few were taken hostage.”

Mr. Abdulrahman said the killers were members of the Nusra Front and Ansar al-Khalafa al-Islamiya Brigade, among the many jihadist groups, some affiliated with Al Qaeda and populated with foreign fighters, that have entered Syria to join the insurgency battling the forces of President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict, now in its third year.

If his assertions are confirmed, the killings would rank among the worst mass executions carried out by the rebel side and could aggravate the image problems for the coalition of insurgent forces, which are already riven by internal conflict and have been losing territory to Mr. Assad’s side in recent weeks.

The killings took place in Khan al-Assal, the town near Aleppo that both Mr. Assad and the political opposition claim was the site of a deadly chemical weapons attack on March 19. Each side has accused the other of responsibility, but there has been no independent inquiry and no confirmation that such weapons were used.

This story is buried on page 8, by the way.

Let’s stipulate that the United States government is decidedly not supporting the Nusra Front. But the fact remains that, like it or not, the extremists are now dominating the anti-regime forces. That means, like it or not, we’re on the same side in this fight as al Qaeda.

FILED UNDER: Middle East, Quick Takes, Terrorism
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    “This story is buried on page 8, by the way

    Given the comments on this story, it’s buried in a virtual page 8 here as well. No complaints on that, mind you. If it was on page one, it would mean we’re invading. And that’s the road to utter madness. Damascus just happens to lie upon on.

  2. Tillman says:

    That means, like it or not, we’re on the same side in this fight as al Qaeda.

    Not for the first time!

  3. Dazedandconfused says:

    Should acknowledge the difficulties presented by the particular nature of the chaos of the region when saying this, but our general ME policy has become utterly incoherent. We are not alone in this. The Gulf states are supporting both the rebels in Syria and the Army in Egypt.

    We need to craft one that serves our interests and our values…if any….if possible….