Syria rebels defends ‘Law of Jungle’ as executions mount
DAMASCUS / AZAZ, Syria
An image released by an al-Qaeda-linked group shows state TV presenter al-Saeed before his reported execution. A rebel leader (inset) defends public executions.
The Free Syrian Army in northern Syria has defended the execution of figures loyal to Damascus while chiding the militant group’s leaders in Turkey for condemning the summary killings.
Those opposing the killings are “talking from a camp in Turkey and not coming inside Syria to see the realities on the ground,” said Ahmed Gazali, the regional commander in the Azaz region and a defector from the Syrian army. “We had evidence that a man [who was recently executed] alone killed 100-150 people, and his gang killed 500 people in Aleppo. Before the execution, he admitted to his killings of university students. In this fight, we don’t have courts or judges to judge and punish people for their crimes,” Gazali told the Hürriyet Daily News on Aug. 3.
Syrian rebels fighting to unseat President Bashar al-Assad face a growing list of accusations that they have carried out executions and torture. A video was posted online last week showing the aftermath of apparent executions of pro-al-Assad militiamen during the rebels’ capture of an intelligence center in Aleppo.
The leadership of the rebel army condemned and denied responsibility for the execution of regime loyalists in the northern city of Aleppo. “We strongly condemn this kind of irresponsible behavior and call on all revolutionary forces and the fighters on the ground to condemn such acts,” the rebels said in a joint command statement.
‘Come and see’
However, militant commanders on the ground think and act differently from the leaders based in the camp in the southern Turkish province of Hatay, with Gazali saying orders coming from the leaders in Turkey could sometimes be “ignored” by rebels. “We have commanders in the camp in Turkey and there are fighters on the ground. The commanders cannot see the situation like the fighters inside. [Rebel] soldiers are doing what is suitable for the situation. And sometimes these orders coming from Turkey are not suitable for the realities on the ground,” Gazali said.
“I call the [rebel] leaders to come here and see what is happening. They live in a camp in Turkey, but I am fighting in Syria. They should come here and see how Syrian people are killed by the regime forces,” he said, adding that he had not received any orders from commanders in Turkey until the most recent statement. “They didn’t even come here to Azaz after we broke into the city.” said Gazali, whose brothers were allegedly killed by regime forces. Gazali also said the militant group was almost entirely made up of defecting soldiers and that they had a strategy to attack, rather than defend.
Syrian officers selling arms
The regional commander said they urgently needed arms but that they had not received arms from any country or any organization until now. “[The rebel army] is able to arm a group of just 10 people a day to send to Aleppo to fight. The only weapons we have are the ones that we buy with our own money from Syrian army defectors,” he said, adding that they also bought weapons from some of the officers inside the Syrian army.
“Once we had a deal with a general who was controlling a military base. He sold us middle and low-range weapons and we paid him double price. When they feel the regime will fall, they will probably run away to another country, taking all the money they have with them. But after the revolution, we will punish them if we can arrest them,” he said.
Television presenter executed
DAMASCUS - Agence France-Presse
A militant group has claimed responsibility for the kidnap and killing of a Syrian television presenter and has threatened more attacks on supporters of President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had said that Syrian state television presenter Mohammed al-Saeed, who was kidnapped from his home in mid-July, had been executed by a group called Al Nusra Front. In June, the group claimed responsibility for the killing of 13 men whose bodies were found bound and shot in the city of Deir ez-Zor. In another violent incident, unidentified anti-Assad forces threw down a man, who is assumed to be a Assad supporter, daily Habertürk reported.