Abu Sakkar

Abu Sakkar Joins Mounting Casualties From The Fighting in Qusayr

As I noted earlier this week the infamous "cannibal", Abu Sakkar, has been sighted inside Qusayr, Homs, scene of heavy fighting between opposition forces and government forces, including members of Hezbollah and the Syrian National Defense Force.  This photograph published yesterday shows Abu Sakkar recovering after being injured in the fighting

What's been notable about some of the footage coming from Qusayr (mainly via the Qusayr Media Centre and Tariq al-Homsi Youtube channels) is that despite reports of civilians being allowed to leave by the Syrian Army via a safe passage in the north of the city before the fighting began it seems many civilian remain in Qusayr, either through choice or circumstances, for example this elderly couple, and this group of women and children

This has resulted in inevitable civilian casualties, including injured and killed children (graphic), with a video showing their burial posted yesterday

It's also worth noting that currently it appears the northwest quarter of the town seems to be the main source of resistance against the Syrian government forces, which has long been the main stronghold for the opposition in the town going back months.  It's possible that rather than holding territory they were unfamiliar with the Syrian opposition forces decided to stick to the area they were familiar with, and this could be why we're now seeing what appears to be very slow movement on the front-lines compared to rapid movement early on in the battle.

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Syrian Opposition Fighters (Including Abu Sakkar) Appear In A Video From Central Qusayr

Syrian Opposition Fighters (Including Abu Sakkar) Appear In A Video From Central Qusayr

During the fighting in Qusayr between the Syrian opposition and government forces supported by Hezbollah the Qusayr Media Centre have been posting regular videos from inside the town.  This video posted today shows opposition fighters in the center of the town

You'll note the speaker is a woman, unusual for videos like this from Syria, and the man stood second from the left is the notorious Abu Sakkar.  This isn't the first video Abu Sakkar has appeared in from Qusayr in recent days, with this one showing him wearing a red shirt.  Here's what's said (thanks to @rtoufic)
Woman - We will purify Qusayr from the Lebansee HezboLLATE (Devil's party) and we won't let Qusayre be easily swallowed by Hassan NarsouLLATE (Supporter of the Devil). Those of them who want to be grieved by their mothers, and see their sons buried, and their wives widowed, or their parents grieved, those will be ... (unclear) by the land of Syria and those who want to accelerate the process will be ... (unclear) by the land of Qusayr. Indeed, men and women we took up arms only to tear apart your bodies.
Abu Sakkar - We will prevail or die.
Off camera - Takbir.
All - Allah Akbar.
It's interesting to note in Abu Sakkar's statement to the media he made a similar statement "Victory or Death".

It's not possible to verify the date this video was filmed, but it is possible verify the location as Aisha Square.  You'll note the lay out of the streets and buildings in the video match what's on the satellite map, in particular the location the the mosque's minaret on the northwest corner of the mosque.  The camera position is directly west of the clock-tower, pointing east.

Today an image has been circulating showing what's supposedly the position of videos published in the last couple of days from state media and opposition sources.

If this image is accurate it would point to the southern half of Qusayr being under government control, or at least contested.

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"The Security Battalion In Saraqeb" Starts Patrolling The Streets

Update May 23rd A small but significant update.  After the LCC statement I've been trying to find a reliable witness inside Saraqeb to confirm what actually happened, and I've managed to find a very reliable source.  A resident in Saraqeb, who does not want to be identified, has confirmed the incident happened and that he witnessed it.

Update May 23rd The LCC in Saraqeb has now issued a statement on the Security Battalion
This is an important notice concerning the whipping incident in the city of Saraqeb:
Almost all the residents of Saraqeb don’t know anything about the so-called Security Battalion or its members or the laws they are trying to enforce. The majority of Sarqeb’s residents were displaced by the regime’s constant shelling of the town, so they didn’t approve the formation of this battalion. We confirm that what happened in the public market was done by intruders and infiltrators that the people of Saraqeb don’t recognize. This parody was performed with the assistance of two men who were brought to trial based on unconvincing accusations and were whipped by anonymous people.
The revolutionaries of Saraqeb disclaim any knowledge of this hastily executed parody, and it’s clear that who carried it out sought to defame the reputation of Saraqeb at a time when almost all its fighters are at the front lines and battlefields in Idlib, Aleppo, Homs, Lattakia and elsewhere. Moreover, this happened at a time when the regime desperately seeks to turn the attention of the world away from the crimes and atrocities they are committing against our great people.
We strongly condemn this act and repudiate it, and we call on every one not to come up with such a folly since it serves the regime only.
The following video was posted on a recently created Facebook page for a group calling themselves "The Security Battalion In Saraqeb"

The video shows the spokesperson for the group reading from a statement and reciting some of Prophet Muhammad's Hadiths (His sayings, which are considered by Muslims the second source of legislation after the Quran). The hadith says: "Carrying out one of God’s orders is better than the rainfall of forty days."  The man continues:
The Sharia Court of Saraqeb ruled that both Ahmed Muhammad Al-Rai’I and Mustafa Hussein Al-Amno , who are residents of Saraqeb, must be whipped because they breached the law of God by wrongfully legalizing what God has prohibited. The first man was indicted for marrying off his daughter to the other man while she was still in her waiting period, which was prescribed by Sharia as three-month period. This period gives the two sides a chance to reconsider their decision to divorce. However, the criminal father married off his daughter while in her waiting period. The man dared to do so ignoring the Sharia Court warning that the marriage contract is invalid, so he was indicted for marrying off his daughter to a man considered a stranger to her, since the marriage contract isinvalid and against Sharia Law. He breached the law of God by legalizing what God has prohibited, so he deserves death. However, due to the current situation of society the court ruled that father must be whipped fifty times while the other one forty times.
The Security Battalion In Saraqeb Facebook page was created a week ago, and appears to be a newly formed group policing the town of Saraqeb, Idlib.  One of their first posts on their Facebook page is a mission statement
Security Battalion
We are a group of Muslim youth drawn from all jihadist battalions in the town of Saraqeb and its countryside. We committed ourselves to restoring peace and security in Saraqeb and Idlib and the rest of the country.
Our goals are:
- To provide peace and security to our people as much as we can.
- To implement the decisions and sentences of Sharia Court.
- To help Muslims, especially who pass by the town.
- To chase criminals such as burglars and bandits and to raid their hideouts.
- To severely punish whoever breaches the codes of conduct.
Characteristics of the security jihadist:
1- Sincerity of intentions 2- Piety 3- Commitment to prayers 4- Honesty 5- Candour and validation of information 6- patience and good manners 7- bravery 8- work in stressful situations 9-  Compliance with the orders and instructions  10- Sincerity of intention 11-giving for the sake of God 12- Forgiveness 13- kindness and gentleness with Muslims.
Instructions and guidelines:
Commitment to the official working hours.
Commitment only to the task entrusted.
To keep the secrets of the Security Battalion and not to divulge them to anybody.
Non-interference in non-vested tasks.
Not to waste time in implementing the tasks.
To take care of the Muslims' private and public property.
Readiness to perform the task at any time.
Commitment to the Sharia lessons.
Not to have doubts about the honesty of the Security Battalion members and to think well of them.
To immediately report all grievances and complaints to the leadership.
To pledge allegiance to the Security Battalion.
Whoever does any of the following will be dismissed:
Abuse of power for personal purposes.
Maltreatment of people and hurting them.
Divulging Battalion secrets.
Unjustified and long absences.
Passing unconfirmed information that may cause harm to Muslims.
Prisoner abuse.
Individual actions and decisions that may cause embarrassment to the Security Battalion.

There Facebook page also has various other details that tells us more about this newly formed group, including this group photograph

This photograph appears to have been taken on the same day the video was filmed, as several of the men in the photograph appear in the video wearing the same clothes.  The man on the back row, to the far right, is reading the statement, with the black pen in his pocket visible in the video.  In the video we also see this masked man, who carries out the punishment

From the photograph it's actually quite easy to identify this individual as the man second from the right on the back row based off his clothes.

There's also a number of other reports on their Facebook page detailing their other activities, including 50 lashes for thieves in front of crowds in the local market, the arrest of men attempting kidnap, the return of a stolen vehicle to it's owner, among others.  There's also a post showing a photograph from the execution of three men in Raqqa by the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, which might suggest their support for such actions.  This post may also reflect infighting among groups in Saraqeb
Abdul-Maiz Hilal doesn’t represent the Sharia Court in Saraqeb nor any side else and he was dismissed from the Sharia Court. Also Hussam Abu Dai doesn’t represent the free people of Saraqeb and he is now on the wanted list.
They've also felt moved to respond to Sameer Nashar statement on the actions of Abu Sakkar

A message from the Security Battalion to one of the opposition figures in exile.Sameer Nashar: "The Syrian people are on the horns of a dilemma; they have to choose either Bashar or the extremists."
Mr. Sameer, those people who you are calling 'extremists' are sacrificing their blood and lives to defend us while you are standing idle not knowing what to do. Those who you are describing as extremists are sharing our suffering under the regime's bombardment and siege, in the orchards, fields and mountains while you and others are hanging around in hotels and imploring the international community for help.
The world is abstaining from giving us support due to adopting this subservient position. Moreover, statements like these are more likely to create strife and unrest amongst the revolutionaries. Mr. Nashar, this is not your first fault but we hope it is the last one. You don't represent us and you are not entitled to speak in our name.
The whipping videos has already appeared on State TV, and it does beg the question whether or not this is something that happening across Syria in towns where Jihadist groups are active.

Alleged Shabiha Tried And Executed In Aleppo
Zaino Berri, Shabiha Leader, Captured And Executed

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at brownmosesatgmail [dot] com (brownmosesatgmail [dot] com)

Abu Sakkar's Statement To The Media With Translation

It's been pretty much impossible to miss the coverage of Abu Sakkar, a Syrian opposition member filmed mutilating a corpse before chewing on an organ, and today he's put out a statement for the media

Thanks to @ghettonawari and @markantony_sy for the following translation
He is praying at first. Making supplications for different things (health, people, etc). From the outskirts of Homs we have Abu Sukkar:

- Do you have regret for what you have done, killing the Assad's shabeeh (militant)and mutilating his body?
-I am of one of the people of Syria, and the people of Syria are a part of the world. I am willing to face trial for my actions if Bashar and his thugs stand trial for their atrocities. My Message to the world, IF the blood in Syria doesn't stop, all of Syria will become like me.
- What motivated you to mutilate the shabeeh's body?
- Their cell phones contain videos showing how they raped women, killed kids, burned the bodies, cut off a man's arm while alive, tortured another man then slaughtering him. Every free Syrian won't b able to control himself while watching these atrocities.
-Will you stop fighting after the outrage at your last video?
- I will fight to the death, Victory or Death.
Alleged Shabiha Tried And Executed In Aleppo
Zaino Berri, Shabiha Leader, Captured And Executed

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at brownmosesatgmail [dot] com (brownmosesatgmail [dot] com)

Video Shows A Member Of The Syrian Opposition Cutting Flesh Of A Corpse, And Apparently Eating It

Frequently during the Syrian conflict there's been videos that claim to show either side committing some sort of war crimes or atrocity.  As a general rule I avoid writing about these videos because there's always claims about fakery, a lack of detail beyond what's shown in the video, and so on.

However, a video has been posted today on pro-Assad channels which presents a rare occasion where it's possible gather much more information about the person involved.

The following video shows a man cutting a chuck of flesh, possible an organ, from a corpse, then biting down onto the chunk of flesh at the end of the video (GRAPHIC)

I've had the audio translated (thanks to @Syrian_scenes), rather than relying on the subtitles attached to the video
I swear by God, we will eat your hearts and your livers, you soldiers of Bashar the dog! Takbeer! Heroes of Baba 'Amr, [inaudible] cut out their hearts to eat them!
As I said before, generally I can't do much with these videos, but in this example I instantly recognised the man wearing that distinctive jacket as appearing in other videos produced by the Independent Omar Farouk Brigades, based around Homs

In the first video he gives a short speech, which I've translated, and also allows us to match the voices in both videos to the same person
In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate: The Umar al-Faruq Battalion is striking the strongholds of the Shabbiha and the Assadist Army in the village of Abel. Takbeer!
Peter N. Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch has been able to confirm the name of the man in the videos as Abu Sakkar of Baba Amro, Homs, also known as Khaled Al Hamad, a former senior figure in Al Farouq Brigade.

It's unclear how the Independent Omar Farouk Brigades is related to the Free Syrian Army, whether or not it works inside the command structure (as it is), or considers itself independent, but it does raise the question that when people are identified in videos like this what can anyone actually do about it during the conflict?

You can contact the author on Twitter @brown_moses or by email at brownmosesatgmail [dot] com (brownmosesatgmail [dot] com)