Islamist rebels behead fellow fighter by mistake - monitors

BEIRUT Sat Nov 16, 2013 6:44pm GMT

1 of 3. Free Syrian Army fighters stand in shooting position with their weapons in the Baajan neighbourhood in Deir al-Zor, eastern Syria November 15, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Khalil Ashawi

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A group of Syrian Sunni Muslim rebels linked to al Qaeda have beheaded one of their own wounded fighters after mistaking him for a foreign Shi'ite fighting for President Bashar al-Assad, a monitoring group said on Saturday.

A video posted by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights shows two members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) brandishing a severed head before a crowd in Aleppo and saying he was an Iraqi Shi'ite fighting for Assad.

Observatory head Rami Abdelrahman said that the man was later identified by the Ahrar al-Sham group, which fights alongside ISIL, as Mohammed Marroush, one of its fighters.

"(ISIL) admitted that they killed the rebel, and arrested a Tunisian man for cutting his head off," Abdelrahman said, adding that the Tunisian had been referred to an Islamic rebel court in Aleppo.

Marroush had been wounded in fighting around Aleppo and taken to a hospital for treatment, where ISIL fighters said they had heard him repeat the name of two venerated Shi'ite imams, Ali and Hussein, Abdelrahman said.

Activists in Aleppo said that Marroush, who was anaesthetised, might have thought he had been captured by pro-Assad militiamen and so pretended to be a Shi'ite.

Many Shi'ites have come to Syria from Iraq or Lebanon to help Assad, whose ruling establishment are mostly members of a sect linked to Shi'ite Islam, fight a majority Sunni revolt.

But the myriad rebel groups are not only fighting Assad but also competing with each other to secure territory or power.

Ahrar al-Sham issued a "wanted poster" on its website for the two men seen in the video with the severed head. ISIL did not respond to requests for comment.

Both sides in the conflict have been accused by rights groups of war crimes, and residents say they face oppression at the hands of Assad's forces and loyalist militias on one hand and hardline Islamist rebels on the other.

(Reporting by Oliver Holmes; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (1)
Truthh wrote:
If true then how stupid are these rebels. If an elaborate lie then this “monitoring group” is stupid or thinks we are stupid. I personally think that it’s most probably the latter. I mean come on, there are more holes in this story than a spider’s web.
So you are telling me a 16 year old boy who is actually a rebel, is wearing a shia outfit with head band included, supposedly wounded in a fight during a shia event when shias are murdered all around the world, repeats the names of two venerated shia imams at hospital for what reason exactly? If he needs to show that he is shia because the hospital is pro-Assad (shia) then why would pro-Assad militia capture anyone from this hospital why not from a hospital which is pro-rebel. If pro-rebel or neutral then better to say nothing than to attract the wrong attention. Even if captured the the rebels (sunni) and pro-Assad (shia) can be differentiated simply by what religious chants, taunts and cries they use and the names of which religious figures they call upon. However, this young man maintains to the very end that he is shia. We are told that he is anesthetized so he is too dazed and confused but apparently or miraculously just conscious enough to maintain his lie. The captors themselves must have at least tried to find out who this person they are capturing/beheading actually is. But no, silly stupid rebels are in so much hurry to show off the severed head that they forget to do any kind of interrogation and get useful information from this supposed “foreign shi’ite fighting for president Assad”. The word “foreign” is kind of curious too, because mostly pro-rebel foreign fighters are from a distinctly different nationality to pro-Assad foreign fighters (if any).

One thing is clear though, even though crime against humanity has occurred from both sides, the rebels are the initiators and perpetrators of the grievous of them all.

Nov 16, 2013 6:48pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.