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Despite Annan efforts, US hell-bent on regime change in Syria

Despite efforts by the UN-Arab League envoy, Kofi Annan to settle the issues in Syria, the United States says it is still after regime change in the country.

SOURCE

A few hours after Annan briefed the UN Security Council (UNSC) by videoconference from Geneva on Tuesday on his efforts to end the year-plus-long unrest in Syria, US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice reiterated Washington’s call for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down. 

Rice claimed that Damascus has not fully implemented any part of Annan’s six-point peace plan, noting that “Washington is focusing on a regime change in Damascus.” 

Annan asked both government troops and armed groups to stop the bloodshed, and reiterated that dialog is the only solution to the unrest. 

“They should think of the people, who have been caught in the middle for about fifteen months,…my appeal to those with guns, my appeal to those who have taken — I was going to say the people prisoners, because, in a way, they are frightened — is to really think of them, think of the people, think of Syria, think of the region and disarm and come to the table,” he said. 

He also stated that his plan is the only chance for preventing a civil war in the country, saying, “What we have to do is to do our best and hope that the better forces in us will prevail and lead us to put down the arms and do what is right. If it fails…it will not affect only Syria, it will have an impact on the whole region. This is why we should all be so concerned for the Syrians, for Syria, and for a region that for geopolitical reasons we should all be concerned about.” 

After Annan’s briefing, Syria’s UN Ambassador Bashar Jaafari accused foreign countries, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, of plotting to sabotage Annan’s plan by fueling the violence. 

“We need to see everybody on board. We need to see these Qataris, the Saudis, the Turkish government, as well as some other nations, stopping their incitement to violence, stopping their sponsorship of…the armed rebellion in Syria, stopping their financial contribution to cover up the needs of these armed groups and the needs of the terrorist groups, which are attacking…civilians as well as military targets in Syria” he said. 

Jaafari also stated that his country was committed to the plan. 

Meanwhile, the UN observers continue monitoring a ceasefire, which has officially been in effect as part of the peace plan for more than three weeks. 

The first group of the observers arrived in the Syrian capital on late April 15 in line with the UNSC Resolution 2042, which had been approved a day earlier. 

On April 21, the council met and unanimously approved Resolution 2043, which ratified a proposal to send a mission of 300 observers to Syria. 

Filed under News Syria War UN War crimes USA US Military

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Don’t let Syria become Libya

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan must be allowed to mediate a real peace in Syria in lieu of a Libya-style redux.

Hamid Dabashi

New York, NY - All the indications are that the US and its regional allies are gearing up for a Libyan déjà vu in Syria. That is a dangerous and potentially catastrophic turn of events for Syria, and for the region at large, resulting in even more blood than the murderous Syrian regime has shed so far. 

The recent Al Jazeera report that the Lebanese navy intercepted “a ship loaded with three containers of weapons destined for Syrian opposition forces” is the most recent indication that the incessantly increasing violence has long since assumed regional and transnational proportions. The ruling regimes in Iran and Saudi Arabia are fighting their proxy wars on the backs of the Syrian people.  

To be sure, just like Gaddafi’s, the bloody ruling regime in Syria is chiefly responsible for the carnage that has unfolded over the past year - for if they had allowed peaceful demonstrations to result in a peaceful transition to democracy, the US and its regional allies would not have had the opportunity to try to fish from the bloody water that Bashar al-Assad has created, nor would there be any room for the opportunist manipulations such as those proffered by Russia, China or Iran. 

The Annan Plan

A former secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan is a perfectly credible intermediary, perhaps the only one with such a credential at this point, and it seems that his plan is quite comprehensive. It calls for an immediate end to bloodshed, the delivery of humanitarian aid, a process for opposition demands to be peacefully articulated, the release of political detainees, allowing foreign reporters into the country, and permitting peaceful demonstrations.

But the ruling regime in Syria is abusing the Annan plan to murder more Syrians. Weeks after the Syrian acceptance of the Annan plan, Al Jazeera continues to report a massive and bloody crackdown upon the opposition: “Syrian troops,” Al Jazeera reported as of April 24, 2012, “have killed dozens of civilians in the city of Hama, activists have said, as UN military observers toured protest centres near the capital Damascus, and both Brussels and Washington imposed new sanctions.” 

As of April 23, shells fired by Syrian security forces have killed at least 18 people in the central city of Hama, and the numbers are steadily on the rise. The UN reports that, by now, more than 9,000 people have died in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011. It is now well over a year that Syrians have been engaged in a defiant battle against their repressive, criminal, regime.

Annan’s plan, again at least nominally, has the support of at least elements within the ruling regime as well as its opposition, plus what ought to be global support. The United Nations Security Council has authorised the deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers to monitor a ceasefire in Syria that formally came into effect on April 12 as part of the Annan plan. There is every reason to believe that if genuinely endorsed by all parties, the Annan plan can work. 

Both Syrian regime and its nemesis abusing Annan

But it is now all but evident that at least the more belligerent factions within the ruling regime in Syria is trying to abuse the Annan plan to try (in vain) to crush the uprising once and for all. The Assad regime is, of course, criminally ignorant - and that is the case not because the Saudis or the US are trying to abuse the situation to their advantage, but because the Syrian uprising, long in process and integral to the rest of Arab revolutions, will not die and will resurface. 

It is in the nature of these transnational uprisings and the synergy among them that, in the long run, no single nation can be robbed of its revolution - neither by their own corrupt ruling regimes nor by the ludicrous hypocrisies extending from Riyadh through Tehran and Tel Aviv to Washington DC. 

That Annan’s plan is being abused by the Syrian regime has been evident from the onset and by the uninterrupted assault on civilian population, of which the UN secretary-general has just issued yet another warning. According to Al Jazeera: Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, has said. “The Syrian government is ‘in contravention’ of an internationally agreed peace plan by keeping troops and heavy weapons in cities. He also said he was ‘gravely alarmed’ by reports of shelling of populated areas in Syria.”    

No amount of white-washing these facts by the demented segments of “the left” can exonerate the criminal disposition of the ruling regime in Syria. 

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Filed under News Commentary Libya Syria US Government Imperialism UN Lebanon Saudi Arabia

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Palestinian intellectual Salameh Kaileh arrested in Syria: lawyer

SOURCE

Prominent Palestinian activist and writer Salameh Kaileh was arrested overnight at his home in Damascus by Syrian authorities, human rights lawyer Anwar Bunni said on Tuesday.

“The security services entered Kaileh’s home in the suburb of Barzeh at 2:00 am (2300 GMT Monday) and arrested him without explanation,” said Bunni.

He said Kaileh’s detention was clearly intended to “muzzle freedom of expression.” 

The 57-year-old author, born in Birzeit in the West Bank, is a well-known leftist who has authored a number of books on subjects ranging from Marxism to Arab nationalism.

He was imprisoned by the Syrian government in the 1990s for eight years.

Bunni, who heads the Syrian Centre for Legal Studies and Research, called for Kaileh’s immediate release.

He accused the regime of also targeting doctors known to be providing aid to those wounded in the government crackdown against a 13-month revolt that has left more than 9,000 people dead according to the United Nations.

“The Syrian authorities are not content to violate human rights on all levels, or to pursue and arrest those who denounce their violations, they also are working to stop all who treat the victims of those violations,” the lawyer said.

Filed under News Palestine Activism Arrest Israel West Bank Syria

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Obama targets technology in human rights abuses

IRONY ALERT!  IRONY ALERT! 


CNN

 President Barack Obama announced Monday that he has signed an executive order allowing new sanctions against companies that enable Syria and Iran to use technology such as cell phone monitoring to carry out human rights abuses.

The order is part of a broader strategy intended to strengthen the administration’s ability to prevent atrocities, including creation of an Atrocities Prevention Board, Obama said in somber remarks at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day.

"These technologies should be in place to empower citizens, not to repress them," Obama said of the measure, which targets the Syrian and Iranian governments, as well as companies that provide them with high-tech equipment to use against their own people.

A White House statement said the executive order signed Sunday “authorizes sanctions and visa bans against those who commit or facilitate grave human rights abuses via information technology … related to Syrian and Iranian regime brutality.”

"This novel sanctions tool allows us to sanction not just those oppressive governments, but the companies that enable them with technology they use for oppression and the ‘digital guns for hire’ who create or operate systems used to monitor, track, and target citizens for killing, torture, or other grave abuses," the White House statement said.

Obama said the new Atrocities Prevention Board will meet for the first time on Monday at the White House.

It will have members from several government departments, including State, Defense, Treasury, Justice and Homeland Security, as well as other agencies, to help the United States improve its ability to identify and respond more quickly to threats of atrocities, according to the White House statement.

"Across government, alert channels will make sure that information about unfolding crises and dissenting opinions reach decision-makers, including me," Obama said.

Other steps include what Obama called the first-ever intelligence assessment on the risk of mass atrocities and genocide, saying the goal is to “institutionalize the focus on this issue.”

"Our Treasury Department will work more quickly to deploy its financial tools to block the flow of money to abusive regimes," the president said. "Our military will take additional steps to incorporate the prevention of atrocities into its doctrine and its planning. The State Department will surge our diplomats and experts in a crisis."

He received applause from the audience of Holocaust survivors and others when he said, in clear reference to the situation in Syria, that “national sovereignty is never a license to slaughter your people.”

Obama has come under heavy criticism on foreign policy issues recently from Republicans, including his certain opponent in the November election, Mitt Romney, and the president’s comments appeared aimed at defending a range of acts by his administration that he said saved “countless lives” around the world.

Calling the prevention of atrocities and genocide a “core national security interest” as well as a core American value, Obama added: “That does not mean that we intervene militarily every time there is an atrocity committed. We cannot and should not.”

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Filed under News Obama Surveillance Syria Iran

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Syria: The virtue of civil disobedience

Civil disobedience is the only way to mobilise people in big cities that are deemed to be regime strongholds in Syria.

By Donatella Della Ratta 

Something is happening in Syria, away from the media spotlight. Last March 27, when Damascus woke up, the independence flag - symbol of the Syrian revolution -  was raised in different districts, from Berzeh to Mezzeh, from school walls to bridges. Civil disobedience groups had successfully managed to coordinate the biggest anti-regime protests conducted simultaneously in different parts of the Syrian capital.

When you make Mutasem Abou AlShamat notice that raising the independence flag is nothing more than just a symbolic action - although beautiful - this Damascene in his 20s, smiles and calmly explains: “You have to look at what lies behind the action, not at its immediate content. Doing this simultaneously means that different non-violent groups are finally getting together and organising common actions. Achieving this degree of coordination should not be taken for granted in Damascus, where security control is tight, communications are either tracked or lacking and moving from one area to another is extremely difficult.”

"This is a step further to coordinate a much bigger operation that is in the pipeline," he says, mysteriously.

Mutasem is a member of the Syrian non-violent movement. Together with many other groups, mostly based in Damascus and Aleppo, he has joined “Ayyam al hurryia” (Freedom days), a consortium of individuals and loose organisations which share a common goal: “To topple the regime through peaceful resistance and civil disobedience”.

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Filed under Commentary Dissent Civil Disobedience Syria REVOLUTION Rebellion

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Mali: U.S. Africa Command’s New War?

SOURCE

President Obama’s statement on defense strategy announced a stronger U.S. presence in Asia-Pacific, while keeping Africa under the radar. Yet, recent developments unequivocally suggest that the Black Continent has become the new U.S. playground of imperial military conquest. Mali is the country currently caught in the eye of the storm. In this article, written in February 2012 when the latest so-called “Tuareg rebellion” erupted in northern Mali, Rick Rozoff connects the dots between these events and Mali’s pivotal role in the U.S. strategy for Africa, conjecturing that, after Libya, the stage is possibly being set for another foreign intervention.

The press wires are reporting on intensified fighting in Mali between the nation’s military and ethnic Tuareg rebels of the Azawad National Liberation Movement in the north of the nation.

As the only news agencies with global sweep and the funds and infrastructure to maintain bureaus and correspondents throughout the world are those based in leading member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – the Associated Press, Reuters, Agence France-Presse, BBC News and Deutsche Presse-Agentur – the coverage of ongoing developments in Mali, like those in most every other country, reflects a Western bias and a Western agenda.

Typical headlines on the topic, then, include the following:

Arms and men out of Libya fortify Mali rebellion” -Reuters

President: Tuareg fighters from Libya stoke violence in Mali” - CNN

Colonel Gaddafi armed Tuaregs pound Mali” - The Scotsman

France denounces killings in Mali rebel offensive” -Agence France-Presse

Mali, France Condemn Alleged Tuareg Rebel Atrocities” - Voice of America

To reach Mali from Libya is at least a 500-mile journey through Algeria and/or Niger. As the rebels of course don’t have an air force, don’t have military transport aircraft, the above headlines and the propaganda they synopsize imply that Tuareg fighters marched the entire distance from Libya to their homeland in convoys containing heavy weapons through at least one other nation without being detected or deterred by local authorities. And that, moreover, to launch an offensive three months following the murder of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after his convoy was struck by French bombs and a U.S. Hellfire missile last October. But the implication that Algeria and Niger, especially the first, are complicit in the transit of Tuareg fighters and arms from Libya to Mali is ominous in terms of expanding Western accusations – and actions – in the region.

Armed rebellions are handled differently in Western-dominated world news reporting depending on how the rebels and the governments they oppose are viewed by leading NATO members.

In recent years the latter have provided military and logistical support to armed rebel formations – in most instances engaged in cross-order attacks and with separatist and irredentist agendas – in Kosovo, Macedonia, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Libya and now Syria, and on the intelligence and “diplomatic” fronts in Russia, China, Pakistan, Sudan, Iran, Indonesia, Congo, Myanmar, Laos and Bolivia.

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Filed under News Commentary Africa Africom Mali Kosovo Macedonia Liberia Ivory Coast Libya Syria Russia China Pakistan Sudan Iran Indonesia Congo Myanmar Laos Bolivia NATO Turkey Morocco Colombia Philippines central africa republic Chad Uganda Congo

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UK ‘exporting surveillance technology to repressive nations’

SOURCE

Britain is exporting surveillance technology to countries run by repressive regimes, sparking fears it is being used to track political dissidents and activists.

The UK’s enthusiastic role in the burgeoning but unregulated surveillance market is becoming an urgent concern for human rights groups, who want the government to ensure that exports are regulated in a similar way to arms.

Much of the technology, which allows regimes to monitor internet traffic, mobile phone calls and text messages, is similar to that which the government has controversially signalled it wants to use in the UK.

The campaign group, Privacy International, which monitors the use of surveillance technology, claims equipment being exported includes devices known as “IMSI catchers” that masquerade as normal mobile phone masts and identify phone users and malware – software that can allow its operator to control a target’s computer, while allowing the interception to remain undetected.

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Filed under News Technology Tech surveillance surveillance state Big Brother Syria Iran Yemen Bahrain USA Germany Israel UK Britain Europe

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BBC “Reveals” After the Facts how British Special Forces Supervised and Spearheaded Libya Rebels to Victory

SOURCE

In a failed attempt to appear unbiased  and objective, the BBC now “reveals”, almost a year after the information was relayed by several alternative media, that British Special Forces played a key role in steering and supervising Libya’s “freedom fighters” to victory.  Known and documented many of these so-called rebels were mercenaries under contract to NATO. 

British efforts to help topple Colonel Gaddafi were not limited to air strikes. On the ground - and on the quiet - special forces soldiers were blending in with rebel fighters:  

This is the previously untold BBC account of the crucial role part played by British and Allied Special Forces in leading the insurrection largely integrated by Al Qaedas affiliated operatives:  

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Filed under News BBC Libya Britain USA War Syria Media Lies Propaganda NATO

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Chavez accuses US of trying to topple Syria leader

By ASSOCIATED PRESS

CARACAS, Venezuela: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is accusing the US government and its allies of provoking violence in Syria in an effort to topple its government.

Chavez says he spoke by phone on Friday with his ally Syrian President Bashar Assad. He says Assad told him that more than 2,000 Syrian soldiers have been killed along with a larger number of civilians in what the Venezuelan leader calls a “terrorist plan” to remove Assad from power.

Chavez also says Assad told him that the security situation in Syria is improving and he hopes the situation returns to normal soon.

Filed under News Hugo Chavez Venezuela USA US Government Syria Imperialism

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Putting Syria into some perspective

by William Blum

The Holy Triumvirate — The United States, NATO, and the European Union — or an approved segment thereof, can usually get what they want. They wanted Saddam Hussein out, and soon he was swinging from a rope. They wanted the Taliban ousted from power, and, using overwhelming force, that was achieved rather quickly. They wanted Moammar Gaddafi’s rule to come to an end, and before very long he suffered a horrible death. Jean-Bertrand Aristide was democratically elected, but this black man who didn’t know his place was sent into distant exile by the United States and France in 2004. Iraq and Libya were the two most modern, educated and secular states in the Middle East; now all four of these countries could qualify as failed states.

These are some of the examples from the past decade of how the Holy Triumvirate recognizes no higher power and believes, literally, that they can do whatever they want in the world, to whomever they want, for as long as they want, and call it whatever they want, like “humanitarian intervention”. The 19th- and 20th-century colonialist-imperialist mentality is alive and well in the West.

Next on their agenda: the removal of Bashar al-Assad of Syria. As with Gaddafi, the ground is being laid with continual news reports — from CNN to al Jazeera — of Assad’s alleged barbarity, presented as both uncompromising and unprovoked. After months of this media onslaught who can doubt that what’s happening in Syria is yet another of those cherished Arab Spring “popular uprisings” against a “brutal dictator” who must be overthrown? And that the Assad government is overwhelmingly the cause of the violence.

Assad actually appears to have a large measure of popularity, not only in Syria, but elsewhere in the Middle East. This includes not just fellow Alawites, but Syria’s two million Christians and no small number of Sunnis. Gaddafi had at least as much support in Libya and elsewhere in Africa. The difference between the two cases, at least so far, is that the Holy Triumvirate bombed and machine-gunned Libya daily for seven months, unceasingly, crushing the pro-government forces, as well as Gaddafi himself, and effecting the Triumvirate’s treasured “regime change”. Now, rampant chaos, anarchy, looting and shooting, revenge murders, tribal war, militia war, religious war, civil war, the most awful racism against the black population, loss of their cherished welfare state, and possible dismemberment of the country into several mini-states are the new daily life for the Libyan people. The capital city of Tripoli is “wallowing in four months of uncollected garbage” because the landfill is controlled by a faction that doesn’t want the trash of another faction.1 Just imagine what has happened to the country’s infrastructure. This may be what Syria has to look forward to if the Triumvirate gets its way, although the Masters of the Universe undoubtedly believe that the people of Libya should be grateful to them for their “liberation”.

As to the current violence in Syria, we must consider the numerous reports of forces providing military support to the Syrian rebels — the UK, France, the US, Turkey, Israel, Qatar, the Gulf states, and everyone’s favorite champion of freedom and democracy, Saudi Arabia; with Syria claiming to have captured some 14 French soldiers; plus individual jihadists and mercenaries from Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Libya, et al, joining the anti-government forces, their number including al-Qaeda veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who are likely behind the car bombs in an attempt to create chaos and destabilize the country. This may mark the third time the United States has been on the same side as al-Qaeda, adding to Afghanistan and Libya.

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Filed under News Commentary War Syria United States Afghanistan Libya London Suaid Arabia UK France Turkey Israel Qatar NATO European Union Cuba Obama CIA China Imperialism

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An Executioner for Syria’s Rebels Tells His Story

By Ulrike Putz

Human Rights Watch has condemned abuses committed by Syrian rebels in their stronghold of Homs. But one member of a rebel “burial brigade” who has executed four men by slitting their throats defended his work in an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE. “If we don’t do it, nobody will hold these perpetrators to account,” he said.


Hussein can barely remember the first time he executed someone. It was probably in a cemetery in the evening, or at night; he can’t recall exactly. It was definitely mid-October of last year, and the man was Shiite, for sure. He had confessed to killing women — decent women, whose husbands and sons had protested against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. So the rebels had decided that the man, a soldier in the Syrian army, deserved to die, too.

Hussein didn’t care if the man had been beaten into a confession, or that he was terrified of death and had begun to stammer prayers. It was his tough luck that the rebels had caught him. Hussein took out his army knife and sliced the kneeling man’s neck. His comrades from the so-called “burial brigade” quickly interred the blood-stained corpse in the sand of the graveyard west of the Baba Amr area of the rebel stronghold of Homs. At the time, the neighborhood was in the hands of the insurgents.

That first execution was a rite of passage for Hussein. He now became a member of the Homs burial brigade. The men, of which there are only a handful, kill in the name of the Syrian revolution. They leave torture to others; that’s what the so-called interrogation brigade is for. “They do the ugly work,” says Hussein, who is currently being treated in a hospital in the Lebanese city of Tripoli. He was injured when a piece of shrapnel became lodged in his back during the army’s ground invasion of Baba Amr in early March.

He is recovering in relatively safe Lebanon until he can return to Syria and “get back to work.” It’s a job he considers relatively clean. “Most men can torture, but they’re not able to kill from close range,” he explains. “I don’t know why, but it doesn’t bother me. That’s why they gave me the job of executioner. It’s something for a madman like me.”

Before he joined the Farouk Brigade, as the Baba Amr militia is known, last August, the 24-year-old had worked as a salesman. “I can sell everything, from porcelain to yogurt,” he says.

How the Rebels Lost Their Innocence

The bloody uprising against the Assad regime has now lasted for a year. And Hussein’s story illustrates that, in this time, the rebels have also lost their innocence.

There are probably many reasons for that development. Hussein can rattle off several of them. “There are no longer any laws in Syria,” he says. “Soldiers or thugs hired by the regime kill men, maim children and rape our women. If we don’t do it, nobody will hold these perpetrators to account.”

Another reason, he explains, is the desire for vengeance. “I have been arrested twice. I was tortured for 72 hours. They hung me by the hands, until the joints in my shoulders cracked. They burnt me with hot irons. Of course I want revenge.”

His family, too, has suffered. He explains that he lost three uncles, all murdered by the regime. “One of them died with his five children,” he says. “Their murderers deserve no mercy.”

Most chillingly, Hussein believes that violence is simply in the nature of his society. “Children in France grow up with French, and learn to speak it perfectly,” he says. “We Syrians were brought up with the language of violence. We don’t speak anything else.”

But in spite of all the rebels’ justification for their brand of self-administered justice, Hussein’s actions fall under what the non-governmental organization Human Rights Watch on Tuesday condemned as “serious human rights abuses” on the part of the Syrian rebels. In the corridors of the hospital in Tripoli, Hussein and his fellow injured comrades speak openly about the fact that they, just like the regime’s troops, torture and kill. They find the criticism from the human rights activists unfair: “We rebels are trying to defend the people. We’re fighting against slaughterers. When we catch them, we must strike hard,” says one fighter, who goes by the nom de guerre Abu Rami.

Alternative Justice System

Over the course of the last year, Homs had developed into the unofficial capital of the revolution. Until a few weeks ago, the rebels controlled whole neighborhoods of the city, especially the district of Baba Amr. But that area was overrun by government troops in early March. The fight between rebels and government forces has now shifted to the neighboring district of Khalidiya.

According to Abu Rami and Hussein, the alternative justice system that the rebels set up in Homs last fall remains intact. “When we catch regime supporters, they are brought before a court martial,” they say. The commander of the rebels in Homs, Abu Mohammed, presides over the court. He is assisted by Abu Hussein, the head of the coordinating committee. “Sometimes even more men act as a jury,” says Hussein. The interrogation brigade reports on the confessions of the accused. Often the suspects even had videos on their cell phones that showed atrocities being perpetrated against insurgents, the men say. “In that situation, their guilt is established quickly.” In the event of a conviction, the prisoners are then handed over to Hussein’s burial brigade, which takes them to gardens or to the cemetery. And then Hussein comes along with his knife.

So far, Hussein has cut the throats of four men. Among the group of executioners in Homs, he is the least experienced — something that he almost seems apologetic about. “I was wounded four times in the last seven months,” he says. “I was out of action for a long time.” On top of that, he also has other commitments. “I operate our heavy machine gun, a Russian BKC. Naturally I have killed a lot more men with that. But only four with the blade.” That will change soon, he says. “I hope I will be released from the hospital next week and can return to Homs. Then those dogs will be in for it.”

'Sometimes We Acquit People'

The rebels in Homs began carrying out regular executions in August of last year, shortly after the conflict in the country began to escalate, says Hussein’s comrade Abu Rami. In his Adidas tracksuit, he looks like any other convalescent in the hospital. But Abu Rami is a senior member of the Homs militia. The other Syrians in the ward greet him respectfully and pay close attention to his words.

"Since last summer, we have executed slightly fewer than 150 men, which represents about 20 percent of our prisoners," says Abu Rami. Those prisoners who are not convicted and sentenced to death are exchanged for rebel prisoners or detained protesters, he says. But the executioners of Homs have been busier with traitors within their own ranks than with prisoners of war. "If we catch a Sunni spying, or if a citizen betrays the revolution, we make it quick," says the fighter. According to Abu Rami, Hussein’s burial brigade has put between 200 and 250 traitors to death since the beginning of the uprising.

He dismisses any doubts about whether these people were really all guilty and whether they received a fair trial. “We make great efforts to investigate thoroughly,” Abu Rami says. “Sometimes we acquit people, too.”

Apart from anything else, it is simply the nature of every revolution to be bloody, Abu Rami explains. “Syria is not a country for the sensitive.”

Filed under News Syria Execution Human Rights Throat cut Killing War Kill Death

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