‘Beheading’ video in Syria shows 24 apparently burned to death

Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has reportedly executed 24 people accused of setting fire to forests to benefit from low charcoal prices. Human rights groups said it was a brutal crackdown on…

'Beheading' video in Syria shows 24 apparently burned to death

Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has reportedly executed 24 people accused of setting fire to forests to benefit from low charcoal prices.

Human rights groups said it was a brutal crackdown on dissent.

Assad issued a decree in October banning land fires and setting fire to fires that cover forests, plant crops and domestic herb gardens.

But a video said to be from the president’s office shows the men being shot.

A narrator, apparently from within the Damascus prison where the men were detained, said they had been tortured before execution.

“We don’t forgive those who show barbarism in ways that increase massacres, then deny it. They are traitors,” he says.

He says that some had been taken to secret locations and tortured, before being put to death in public.

Other videos said to be of Assad and his wife showing women and children in “martyrdom,” or “martyrdom cards”, bearing the prisoner’s photograph.

Decapitation

Al-Mayadeen TV said the government had not made the names public but had revealed the men’s villages and provided their ages and genders.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said those executed had been “slaughtered”.

“In a climate of fear and hopelessness in Syria, Syria’s authorities have been desperate to promote a false sense of normality and restore stability,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at the HRW.

“So, in the south of the country, the Syrian authorities decided to use a mass execution of civilians in order to whip up popular support. They executed 24 men who were convicted by a criminal court without evidence.”

WWF-Arabia spokesman Ramzi al-Mishal said those who had been shot had probably been from a village in the south of the country.

Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen TV posted a video on its website of a crowd of men gathered around a mobile phone held by a man who it said was the man with the telephone.

A voice says: “In the town of Bustan al-Shayoun, in Hatr al-Shuhada, people set fire to the area to increase the price of charcoal.”

The men in the crowd rise to their feet and the sound of automatic rifle fire is heard.

The men are allegedly being shot through the chest. One man lies in a pool of blood and men speak over him in the footage.

A voice says: “The regime has been killing without warning for three years. Because of injustice, we must respond in the same way. Whoever wants us to walk from our country to Jerusalem will face our sword.”

The men have not yet been identified by name or affiliation with any side.

In an earlier video, filmed in a prison, the man quoted above says he was ordered to burn two forests and farmland in areas surrounding Damascus.

“They tell us if we don’t do it, our peaceful protests will continue,” he says.

The man in the cell video then says the government is happy that the men were put to death, adding: “We will resist until the country is purified.”

CNN-Bilbao-Afp, AP/AFP

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