Footage appears to show Syrian rebel biting lung of dead soldier (VIDEO)


A Syrian man stands on his destroyed home in Aleppo on Feb. 23, 2013.


Pablo Tosco

A graphic amateur video posted by Syrian pro-government supporters on Sunday appears to show a rebel mutilating a corpse and biting its severed lung. 

The video, first reported by Time and Human Rights Watch, shows a man called "Abu Sakkar," a commander of the Independent Omar al-Farouq Brigade, cutting the corpse of a pro-government soldier.

Then Sakkar, holding a bloody lung, looks into the camera and says: "I swear to God, soldiers of Bashar, you dogs – we will eat your heart and livers. Takbir. God is Great. Oh my heroes of Baba Amr, you slaughter the Alawites and take their hearts out to eat them."

GlobalPost could not verify the video's authenticity, but in a Skype interview with Time on Tuesday, Sakkar admitted the crime and explained why he cut open the soldier's corpse and bit what some say is a lung. “We opened his cell phone and I found a clip of a woman and her two daughters fully naked and he was humiliating them, and sticking a stick here and there,” he said.

The unapologetic Sakkar goes on to admit to another brutal act, claiming to have video of himself cutting a pro-government Shabiha militiaman into pieces with a saw. 

This is not the first time Sakkar, whose real name is Khalid al-Hamad, has appeared in a mutilation video. Time recently reported on footage from April this year that appears to show Sakkar handling organs cut from a dead man's body.

It's unclear if the 60-man Independent Omar al-Farouq Brigade, which the New York-based rights group says has been implicated in the "indiscriminate shelling" of Lebanese Shia villages, is linked to the Free Syrian Army, which has condemned the video. 

"The Syrian Coalition strongly condemns this act, if it is revealed to be true," the group said in a statement. "The coalition stresses that such an act contradicts the morals of the Syrian people, as well as the values and principles of the Free Syrian Army."

The US also denounced Sakkar's actions. "We're appalled by this video, and we've been very clear that all sides in this conflict must abide by international humanitarian law," said State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell.

Peter Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch, who saw the original raw footage, said Sakkar's identity had been verified by sources in Homs and other videos.  

"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," Bouckaert said.

More from GlobalPost: Assad's Alawites fear a time when Sunnis seek revenge

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his family, who have ruled Syria since the 1970s, are supported by the powerful minority Alawite sect, a branch of Shia Islam. The Syrian opposition is thought to be composed of a Sunni majority.

What began as a peaceful protest in March 2011, has now turned into a deadly and protracted conflict that has, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, killed more than 80,000 people. 

Here are three videos reported by The New York Times via Elliot Higgins' Brown Moses Blog that appear to show the cannibal in question. Physical evidence suggests it's the same man: He looks the same, wears the same black jacket, sounds similar, and all the videos were likely produced by the Independent Omar al-Farouq Brigade. Of course, as is often the case with videos from Syria's civil war, it's impossible to be absolutely sure. 

Video 1, posted April 8:

Video 2, posted April 9:

Video 3, posted April 11: