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International Outcry as Video Surfaces that Shows Syrian Rebel Biting Heart of Soldier

Update Date: May 14, 2013 01:13 PM EDT
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A chilling video has prompted outrage in Syria when a video depicting a rebel eating a soldier's heart was made public.

According to the BBC, the video cannot be independently verified, due to security concerns and the country's limited access to foreign journalists. Regardless, the person in the video has been identified as Abu Sakkar, a founder of the independent Omar al-Farouq Brigade, by New York City-based non-profit Human Rights Watch. In the video, the rebel cuts the dead soldier's torso before removing what appears to be his liver and heart, though at least one doctor who has viewed the footage says that he bites into a lung, not a heart.

"I swear to God we will eat your hearts and your livers, you soldiers of Bashar the dog," the man who has been named as Abu Sakkar says in the video, referring to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. NBC News reports that he also launches into sectarian language to describe the Alawites. The majority of the rebels in Syria are Sunni Muslim, while Assad's government is perceived as being propped up by Alawites, a segment included in Shiite Islam.

Regardless, the desecration of a corpse is considered to be a war crime. The act has prompted fury on both sides of the conflict in Syria. According to the Washington Post, the Syrian Opposition Coalition decried the act, saying that it violated the principles of the Free Syrian Army. "The FSA is a national army above all, formed to defend civilians and deliver the Syrian people from the mentality of revenge and crime. It completely rejects the ill-treatment of the wounded and the disfigurement of the dead," the army said in a statement.

The act is seen as problematic for much of the international community, highlighting the fragmented nature of the rebels' side of the conflict. The United Nations estimates that 70,000 people have died in the conflict, which has been going on for the past two years. Jordan has said that it will host a conference for the Friends of Syria; the United States and Russia, an ally of the nation, have both said that they would attend in the hopes to bring the war to an end. However, while United States' Secretary of State John Kerry has alluded to the fact that President Bashar al-Assad would be there, officially the Syrian government has said that they would not be a part of anything that violated "national sovereignty".

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