Screen capture from the execution video.
In this extremely violent footage, rebels from the Free Syrian Army are filmed shooting to death a group of men accused of being part of President Bashar al-Assad's inner circle. Two opposition activists in Aleppo – including one that witnessed the executions – share their reactions.
The video was uploaded to the Internet on Tuesday, only several hours after being filmed. It shows the execution of four members of the Berri clan, known for being close to the regime, and their leader, Zeinou Berri. In the video, uniformed men bring the prisoners in front of a group of combatants. Some of the prisoners are shirtless, and their bodies are bloodied and bear the marks of beatings. While onlookers heckle the prisoners and cheer on the Free Syrian Army fighters, the prisoners are forced to sit along a wall. Several moments later, the rebels open fire with their machine guns and the prisoners are killed in a shower of bullets.
According to Rami Abdurrahmane from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition watchdog group, these events did take place on Tuesday in Aleppo. Abdurrahmane confirms that he received the video from soldiers who participated in the execution. According to him, these executions occurred between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.: “Zeinou Berri and other members of his family, or close colleagues, were arrested by the Free Syrian Army. They subsequently were summarily tried, then handed over to members of the Unification Brigade (this brigade, which is part of the Free Syrian Army, is the largest in Aleppo; it is composed of most of the militias in the city and its suburbs) who executed them.”
The Berris are a rich Syrian family known for their close ties with the Assad clan. Two members of this family currently serve in parliament. Since the start of the rebellion, they have allegedly “participated” in the repression of demonstrations, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. On May 31, Free Syrian Army combatants in Aleppo had already killed six members of the Berri family.
Nadim Houry, adjunct director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East division, said via Twitter
that these acts were “war crimes” and invoked article 3 of the Geneva Convention
, which holds that prisoners “cannot be executed without due process and a trial”.