News Column

Free Syrian Army Condemns 'Heart Eater'

May 16, 2013

a Leaders of the Free Syrian Army are condemning an opposition leader in the battle-scarred city of Homs who is depicted on a widely circulated video taking a bite out of what appears to be the heart of a dead enemy soldier. And they worry the alleged desecration will lessen support for their rebellion.

The video, which surfaced on the Internet on Sunday, shows rebel commander Khaled al-Hamad, also known as Abu Sakkar, cutting out the heart of a dead soldier of President Bashar Assad's military and chomping it.

"I swear to God we will eat your hearts and your livers, you soldiers of Bashar the dog," al-Hamad says. The video could not be authenticated independently, but comrades of al-Hamad have said the video appears to be genuine.

Rebel spokesman Tariq al Sayed told CNN that two of al-Hamad's brothers have died in the fighting.

Maj. Gen. Salim Idriss, chief of staff for the Supreme Military Council of the opposition, toldTIME magazine that "no soldier under the council's command would be allowed to get away with" the desecration depicted in the video.

Opponents of the Assad regime worry that the video will make it less likely that Western powers will help the rebels defeat Assad more than two years into a civil war that has left 80,000 civilians dead.

President Obama has refused to offer any direct military aid to the rebellion. His administration also recently designated as a terrorist group one of the most successful fighting forces in Syria, the Islamist Jabhat al-Nusra.

"When the revolution started, it was regular civilian people who started it, not conservative Islamists," says Abu Anas, an opposition fighter in Aleppo. "Now if Western governments want to make Jabhat al-Nusra another reason not to help us, that's their problem, not ours."

The leader of Jabhat al-Nusra pledged allegiance last month to al-Qaeda, but Anas says he knows of a number of people in Jabhat al-Nusra who do not support al-Qaeda.

Some Syrian rebels say that the West and particularly the United States have become unfairly fixated on the rebels' "politics." Adel Asaf, a member of opposition group Liwa Towheed, says his group does care about al-Nusra's afiiliations because "they are working with us on the front lines."




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Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013