Grim video casts shadow on methods of Free Syrian Army

 
A video has sparked a flurry of reactions among Syrian bloggers: it shows the brutal interrogation of an officer captured by the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a combat force made up of soldiers who have deserted the regular army to support anti-government protests. The FRANCE 24 Observers team has been able to authenticate the video. When questioned about its content, an army deserter now working with the FSA suggested that in times such as these, the ends justify the means.
 
WARNING: This video may be considered disturbing.
 
 
This video was first posted on YouTube on October 20, 2011, and has recently resurfaced. The recording bears the logo of the Farouk brigade, a group of rebel fighters linked to the Free Syrian Army and based in the eastern city of Homs. The prisoner being interrogated is presented as a member of the Syrian Air Force’s secret service. Forty-four seconds into the video he can be heard saying that he is from Deraa but that he was in deployment in Homs, in the neighbourhoods of Diar Baalbeh, Bayadah and Khaldiyeh. At 1’01 minutes, he says that he was ordered to shoot to kill, and that he had opened fire on demonstrators in other cities at various times since the start of the protest movement.
 
At 1’59 minutes, the interrogator asks him whether he has a last wish to express before he dies. Asked whether he regrets what he has done, the prisoner replies: “yes, very much.” The interrogator then continues to sermon him, ordering him to “look up, son of a bitch” (at 2’48 minutes). The video ends with the question: “Then why didn’t you desert?”
 
Some bloggers have compared the FSA’s methods to those of the regular Syrian army. Others claim that the video is entirely fabricated by Syrian secret services or supporters of president Bashar al Assad to tarnish the image of the Free Syrian Army. However, our team has been able to verify this video and confirm its authenticity.
Contributors

"If he has killed protesters, he will certainly be executed"

Abou Hussein is a deserting Syrian officer. He is the administrator of the official Facebook page of the Farouk brigade, where the video was originally posted.
 
This video was indeed filmed by members of the Farouk brigade last October. I had posted it on our official Facebook page, but it was shut down and we had to create another one.
 
The prisoner you see in this footage has not been tortured by members of the Free Syrian Army. He was injured during combat. This caused the cuts and bruises you see. The man was part of the Air Force secret services, which is the most powerful branch of the Syrian secret services [due to the fact that former Syrian president Hafez Al Assad, Bashar’s father, was a member of the Air Force.] They receive their orders directly from the presidential palace. [At 0’53 minutes, the prisoner says he received orders to kill directly from the president himself, as well as Maher Al Assad, the president’s brother.] The Air Force secret service members have authority over all members of the army, even higher ranking officials. Their job is to ensure that soldiers remain loyal to the regime. If they are the least bit suspicious about a person, they have the green light to make arrests or even carry out executions. These men are every deserter’s worst enemy.
 
"We are at war and […] we can’t afford to have prisons"
 
I’m not sure what happened afterwards with that particular prisoner, but in general, there are two possible scenarios: either we proceed to a prisoner exchange with Syrian authorities, or the man is judged by the Free Syrian Army. If it turns out that he has killed protesters, as was this man’s case, he will most likely be executed. We are at war, and given our organisation and our constraints, we can’t afford to have prisons. And it would be unthinkable to set him free for him to start killing again."
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