Armed rebel groups in Syria are handling increasingly coordinated
civic and administrative responsibilities in rebel-held neighborhoods, but
their adoption of judicial functions, including courts and handing down death
sentences, has worried human rights groups.
Abu al-Majd, a former lawyer and leader of the Free Syrian Army's Liw'a al-Tawheed Brigade in Aleppo, has detailed operations of a "Religious Justice Council" responsible for the death sentencing of several members of the prominent Barri family in Aleppo. Members of the family were brutally executed Tuesday at the hands of an armed mob in the Bab Nerab district of Aleppo.
Video of the executions, which was circulated on the Internet, stirred outrage among human rights groups and opposition leadership, who sought to distance themselves from the killings they denounced as illegal and contrary to international human rights law.
The shocking video showed over a dozen men, some bloodied and partially unclothed, giving their names in what appears to be a school classroom. The Barri family were known for their close ties to President Bashar Assad and are accused of operating as regime thugs, or shabbiha, killing a number of people.
Some of the men were shown being led outdoors and lined up in front of a chanting mob, understood to be members of the Liw'a al-Tawheed Brigade.
Some among the mob appeared to open fire, killing the men in a torrent of gunfire that lasts nearly a minute, leaving a pile of bloody human remains.
Abu al-Majd (who declined to give his real name), a self-described member of the "Religious Justice Council," told The Daily Star the Barri family members were sentenced to death at an FSA court after confessing to breaching an agreement with the local FSA meant to suspend hostilities.
Speaking to The Daily Star by telephone, Abu al-Majd detailed mechanisms of the judicial council, saying it was established in April and includes 10 "jurists" including legal and religious scholars who determine and carry out its decisions.
The court's self-proclaimed jurisdiction extends from Aleppo provinces to Idlib and its surrounds, according to Abu al-Majd.
He said the council's functions include the sentencing and execution of "criminal" cases, for which punishments range from fines to death, but also extend to administrative matters such as negotiating captured prisoners' release and the management of social services, like garbage collection and operation of bakeries.
FSA commanders in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus recently told The Daily Star that resources had been allocated to the administration of civic functions in so-called liberated neighborhoods as a means of maintaining order and earning the trust of local residents.
FSA lieutenant Omar al-Homsi, in Damascus, told The Daily Star recently that security responsibilities were allocated in every area that comes under FSA control.
"It is not just our responsibility to fight. We also need to rebuild and manage the community," he said, adding that "every battalion also has a prison."
In late July, video circulated announcing the formation of the "Military Security Battalion," tasked with "aiding defections" as well as helping to provide military security intelligence and the securing of all documents.
Most Popular Stories
- SEO Traffic Lab Celebrate Wins at Digital Marketing Event 'Internet World 2013' in London
- Social Media Initiatives Should Follow Customers' Lead
- Apple CEO: Offshore Units Not a 'Tax Gimmick'
- U.S. Senate Accuses Apple of Large-scale Tax Avoidance
- UTEP Water Recycling Project Wins Venture Titles
- Marketo Makes a Mint in IPO: Stock Shoots Up More than 50 Percent
- Bieber Booed at Billboard Awards
- Crude Oil Up, Gasoline Down
- Austin Startup Compare Metrics Raises $3.5 Million for Expansion
- Why So Many Top 'Car Guys' Are Actually Women