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A Syrian rebel leader who apparently took a bite from a soldier’s heart was today accused of committing a war crime by mutilating a body.
A group loyal to president Bashar Assad, which published a video clip of the act on the internet, described the act as a “crime that crosses all lines”.
The man, identified by Human Rights Watch as Abu Sakkar, a well-known insurgent from the city of Homs, is seen carving into the soldier’s body and cutting out the heart and liver.
He then says: “I swear to God we will eat your hearts out, you soldiers of Bashar. You dogs. God is greater… we will take out their hearts to eat them.” He then appears to put the heart in his mouth and takes a bite.
Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch said: “The mutilation of the bodies of enemies is a war crime. But the even more serious issue is the very rapid descent into sectarian rhetoric and violence.”
Human Rights Watch said Sakkar is the leader of a group called the Independent Omar al-Farouq Brigade. The group said he had been filmed before, firing rockets into Shia areas of Lebanon and posing with the bodies of guerrillas from the Lebanese Hezbollah movement killed fighting alongside Syrian government forces.
The main Syrian opposition coalition said Sakkar would be put on trial.
It comes after David Cameron and Barack Obama presented a united front at the White House on Syria, saying they were working together to push for the end of Assad’s hardline regime.
A Syrian minister today asked for details of a conference to end the war as outlined by talks between America and Russia, one of the regime’s main allies. Syrian information minister Omran Zoabi said more information is needed before the government makes a decision to attend.
The UN says 70,000 people have been killed since the uprising began in March 2011. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights puts the death toll at more than 80,000.