For some Assad loyalists, a gory death at rebel hands

Disturbing footage of Syrian rebels slitting the throat of a blindfolded young man and throwing bodies off a rooftop to a cheering crowd below have appeared on YouTube.

It was not possible to independently verify the authenticity or the circumstances in which the videos were recorded and some activists argue that one of them was staged by supporters of President Bashar al-Assad to discredit the rebels.

But as an uprising against the Syrian leader grinds through its 17th month, there are signs that the rebels are taking bloody revenge on anyone they suspect of being a member of a pro-Assad militia known as "shabbiha".

The videos also make uncomfortable watching for the rebels' allies who have criticized government forces for perpetrating similar atrocities and their release comes at a time when the United States and Turkey are planning to increase their support for the opposition.

In one of the latest videos, dead bodies can be seen being flung from the roof of a post office amid volleys of gunfire. The corpses land on the ground with a heavy thud.

As a crowd of shouting men watch, blood and body parts splatter across the cement and some of the bodies - all men - land on the staircase leading into the post office below.

"This is the liberation of the post office," an activist says, explaining that he is filming in the northern town of al-Bab, just outside the city of Aleppo.

Enraged members of the crowd can then be seen kicking the bodies down the stairs and taking pictures with their mobile phones. Chants of "God is great," ripple through the crowd. "This one was a shabbiha," one man yells.


The shabbiha - who take their nickname from a Syrian slang word derived from the Arabic word for ghost - have been accused of several massacres in recent months.

Some rebels admit to torturing and executing men they accuse of being "shabbiha", saying they are exacting revenge for often horrific crimes perpetrated against their own loved ones.

One of the most chilling videos to emerge yet was posted by government supporters on Monday and appears to show rebels slowly cutting open the throat of a blindfolded man.

Some activists argue the killing was not carried out by rebels, insisting that the opposition is being framed.

In the video, the young man, stripped of his shirt and shoes, is dragged across a pavement at night by a group of men. They push him down to a rubbish-strewn curb.

"Kneel down, kneel down," the captors can be heard to shout, slapping him. As one man begins to slit his throat with a knife, cries of "God is great" and "Praise God" erupt.

Others help hold down the man's head. No location is given, and no one in the video is identified.

"This is the fate of the shabbiha and all of Assad's regime," one man shouts. Blood spatters across the pavement as the last rattles of breath escape from the young man.

[Source: By Erika Solomon, Reuters, Beirut, 13Aug12]

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