International rights groups cried foul on Wednesday after gory footage purporting to show Syrian rebels publicly executing suspected Assad militiamen surfaced online.
The 2-minute video shows fighters carrying Kalashnikovs line up a group of men against a wall and shoot them execution-style in a deafening minute of gunfire.
Some of the men look wounded as they are led down a flight of stairs and guided to what appears to be a schoolyard wall painted with children's drawings, such as Mickey Mouse playing soccer. The crowd chants "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) repeatedly before the gunmen open fire. When the dust clears, the cameraman focuses in on the prisoners' dead bodies.
WARNING: The video below contains graphic footage.
Another video purportedly shows the same men, bloodied and sitting in a schoolroom, giving their names to the camera.
In an ongoing battle that has pitted the Syrian regime against rebel fighters, the government's brutal tactics to crush the opposition are condemned frequently. Assad's forces have been accused of atrocities including sniper attacks, torture, and summary executions.
Activists also claim the government uses militias called "shabiha" to crack down on opponents. This enables the regime to deny any wrongdoing and point to "armed gangs" as responsible for the violence. The opposition claims shabiha were behind the Houla massacre, in which dozens of women and children were killed.
However, the violent footage making rounds Wednesday added to a growing pool of evidence showing abuses committed by Syria's opposition fighters.
Human Rights Watch's Nadim Houry told The New York Times that the actions constituted a crime. "Intentionally killing anyone, even a shabiha, once he is outside of combat is a war crime, regardless of how horrible the person may have been," Houry said.
Despite widespread condemnation by international rights groups, some activists argued that the killings were fair retribution for the regime's crimes against its people, and that the rebels need not show mercy to regime loyalists.
Fighting in Syria's second city and economic hub, Aleppo, continues into its second week. On Wednesday, rebels reportedly took control of three police stations as the regime sent in helicopter gunships in an effort to drive out the rebels. The battle for Aleppo is regarded as an important test for both sides as the rebels gain ground and the Assad regime wavers after the death of four of its top officials in July.
Activists estimate that over 19,000 people have died since the uprising began in March 2011, with at least 2,750 killed last month.
BEFORE YOU GO
09/09/2012 12:25 PM EDT
Syria Blasts Aleppo By Air
09/05/2012 7:50 AM EDT
Syrian City In Flames
08/25/2012 1:45 PM EDT
Lebanese Pilgrim Freed
Hussein Ali Omar, 60, one of 11 Lebanese Shiite pilgrims that Syrian rebels have been holding for three months in Syria, hugs his mother, right, upon arrival at his house in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, 2012. Syrian rebels freed Omar on Saturday in a move aimed at easing cross-border tensions after a wave of abductions of Syrian citizens in Lebanon. The Shiite pilgrims were abducted May 22 after crossing into Syria from Turkey on their way to Lebanon. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
08/24/2012 12:22 PM EDT
This image made from video and released by Shaam News Network and accessed Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012, purports to show the funeral of children in Daraya, near Damascus, Syria. Syrian troops backed by tanks and helicopters broke into a Damascus suburb on Thursday following two days of shelling and intense clashes as part of a widening offensive by President Bashar Assad's forces to seize control of parts of the capital and surrounding areas from rebel fighters, activists said. At least 15 people were killed in the offensive on Daraya, only a few miles (kilometers) southwest of Damascus. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network SNN via AP video)
08/24/2012 11:05 AM EDT
Lebanon Sees Heaviest Clashes In Months
Clashes between Assad supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime killed two people in Lebanon on Friday, the Associated Press reports. 17 people were injured.
The AP gives more context:
Syria was in virtual control of its smaller neighbor for many years, posting tens of thousands of troops in Lebanon, before withdrawing under pressure in 2005. Even without soldiers on the ground, Syria remains influential, and its civil war has stirred longstanding tensions that have lain under Lebanon's surface.
Read more on HuffPost World.
08/24/2012 11:02 AM EDT
A Sunni gunman fires a gun during clashes that erupted between pro and anti-Syrian regime gunmen in the northern port city of Tripoli, Lebanon, Friday, Aug. 24, 2012. The latest round of fighting first erupted on Monday in northern Lebanon and at least 15 have been killed in Tripoli this week and more than 100 have been wounded in fighting that is a spillover from Syria's civil war. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
08/24/2012 11:00 AM EDT
Refugee Numbers Soar
@ KenRoth :
UN reports 200,000 #Syria refugees, 30,000 in past week alone. Many more internally displaced not counted. http://t.co/BaM6u59j
08/23/2012 2:00 PM EDT
Syrian boy Musataf Alhafiz, 11, who fled his home with his family due to fighting between the Syrian army and the rebels, carries his brother Saif, 9 months, while he and others take refuge at the Bab Al-Salameh border crossing, in hopes of entering one of the refugee camps in Turkey, near the Syrian town of Azaz, Thursday, Aug. 23, 2012. Thousands of Syrians who have been displaced by the country's civil war are struggling to find safe shelter while shelling and airstrikes by government forces continue. (AP Photo/Muhammed Muheisen)
08/23/2012 12:09 PM EDT
Heaviest Bombardment This Month
Helicopter gunships shelled Damascus on Wednesday as Syrian security forces intensified their assault on the capital. Activists report that at least 47 people were killed.
"The whole of Damascus is shaking with the sound of shelling," a woman in the neighborhood of Kfar Souseh told Reuters.
Read more on HuffPost World.