Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Campaigning against Bouteflika's re-election... in France

Read more

WEB NEWS

Chile: Online mobilization to help Valparaiso fire victims

Read more

ENCORE!

Art, sex, money, memory and manga

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Spat over Iran's UN ambassador hampers thawing relations with US

Read more

FOCUS

China trade deal: Is Taiwan's identity under threat?

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Call it a caretaker government'

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles

Read more

DEBATE

Nigeria's Battles (part 2)

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Pornography without borders is key benefit of EU, says French MEP

Read more

  • US rolls out red carpet for French critic of capitalism

    Read more

  • Pro-Russia separatists ‘seize’ Ukrainian armoured vehicles

    Read more

  • Acclaimed Belgian conservationist shot in eastern Congo

    Read more

  • France's new PM targets welfare in drive to cut spending

    Read more

  • Rescue effort under way as ferry sinks off S. Korean coast

    Read more

  • Brazil club Mineiro cancel Anelka signing after no-show

    Read more

  • Syria 'torture' photos silence UN Security Council members

    Read more

  • Paris laboratory loses deadly SARS virus samples

    Read more

  • More than 100 schoolgirls kidnapped in northeast Nigeria

    Read more

  • New York police disband unit targeting Muslims

    Read more

  • 'Miracle girl' healthy after seven-organ transplant in Paris

    Read more

  • Paris police memo calling for Roma eviction ‘rectified’

    Read more

  • Burgundy digs into France's bureaucratic 'mille-feuille'

    Read more

  • French court drops ‘hate speech’ case against Bob Dylan

    Read more

  • Algeria rights crackdown slammed ahead of election

    Read more

  • Iraq closes notorious Abu Ghraib jail over security fears

    Read more

  • Berlusconi sentenced to community service for tax fraud

    Read more

  • In ‘Tom at the Farm’, Xavier Dolan blends Hitchcock and homoeroticism

    Read more

  • US to mark one year since Boston Marathon bombing

    Read more

  • India's Supreme Court establishes third gender category

    Read more

  • Paris hotel that hosted Holocaust survivors shuts for renovation

    Read more

Middle east

Grisly Syria ‘heart-eating’ video sparks outrage

©

Text by Leela JACINTO

Latest update : 2013-05-14

A video which appears to show the Syrian rebel Abu Sakkar carving out the heart of a dead soldier and putting it into his mouth has shocked journalists who met him in Homs in 2011 and 2012 and sparked widespread condemnation.

On Saturday, May 11, as French journalist Sofia Amara was surfing the web, she chanced upon a video clip that left her shocked, sickened, angry, and ultimately so despairing, the seasoned war reporter collapsed crying.

The gruesome video appeared to feature a Syrian rebel commander, dressed in camouflage trousers, cutting open the corpse of what appeared to be a soldier loyal to Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

The rebel then proceeds to carve out the heart and liver out of the corpse.

“I swear to God, soldiers of Bashar, you dogs – we will eat your hearts and livers,” he says, looking into the camera. At the end of the 30-second clip, the rebel commander puts the corpse’s heart in his mouth, as if he’s about to eat it.

“The second I played the video, I recognised him,” said Amara in a phone interview with FRANCE 24 from the Lebanese capital of Beirut. “I recognized him because of his voice, his mannerisms, his clothes – he was always wearing those clothes.”

FRANCE 24 has decided not to post the disturbing footage of the rebel mutilating the corpse although the clip is available on the Internet.

Amara was reporting in the Baba Amr district of the western Syrian city of Homs in December 2011, when she said she met the rebel, who she identified by the nom de guerre, Abu Sakkar.

In her documentary, “At the heart of the Free Syrian Army” - which was aired on a French TV station last year – Amara says Abu Sakkar features in the second part of the two-and-a-half hour documentary.

"Syria: at the heart of the Free Army". A report by Sofia Amara for Arte. The rebel Abu Sakkar can be seen at 2 minutes and 27 seconds.


“He was always with me. He was charming and adorable,” said Amara. “He was not a savage. This crackdown has killed humanity.”

A war crime by a breakaway brigade

The video clip, which first appeared on pro-Syrian regime websites over the weekend, is one of the most gruesome to emerge from the Syrian conflict, which has killed an estimated 80,000 people, according to opposition figures.

In a statement released on Monday, the New York-based Human Rights Watch also identified the rebel as Abu Sakkar and said his actions were a war crime.

“The laws of war prohibit any mutilation of dead bodies,” said the Human Rights Watch statement. “Under the Rome Statute of the ICC (International Criminal Court), ‘outrage upon personal dignity’ is a war crime, which includes humiliating, degrading, or otherwise violating the dignity of a dead body.”

Amara was one of a handful of journalists who say they encountered Abu Sakkar during or after the battle of Homs in 2011 and 2012.

According to the freelance journalist, in December 2011, Abu Sakkar was fighting with the Al Farouq Brigade, one of the oldest brigades that emerged from Homs just months after the Syrian uprising broke out in March 2011.

But last October, Abu Sakkar broke away from the mainstream Al Farouq brigade, and formed his own group, according to a report on the Foreign Policy website.

Human Rights Watch identified Abu Sakkar’s breakaway group as the Independent Omar al Farouq Brigade and said it was not known whether the unit operated under the command of the Free Syrian Army.

Responding to the video, Maj. Gen. Salim Idriss, Chief of Staff for the Supreme Military Council of the opposition, told TIME Magazine that “such violence is unacceptable, and no soldier under the council’s command would be allowed to get away with such actions.”

But Nadim Houry, Middle East deputy director at Human Rights Watch, noted that opposition forces have not set up proper accountability mechanisms for abuses committed by their members.

“It is not enough for Syria’s opposition to condemn such behaviour or blame it on violence by the government,” Houry said. “The opposition forces need to act firmly to stop such abuse.”

 

Date created : 2013-05-14

  • TURKEY-SYRIA

    Turkey blames Syria for deadly car bombings

    Read more

  • TURKEY

    Scores killed in Turkey-Syria border town blast

    Read more

  • HURRIYET DAILY NEWS

    Turkey arrests 10 on suspicion of arming Syria rebels

    Read more

Comments

COMMENT(S)