Al-Qaeda Mistaken Beheading of Fellow Syrian Rebel Begs Apology

Monday, 18 Nov 2013 08:09 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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An Al-Qaeda-affiliated anti-government group found itself apologizing this weekend after mistakenly beheading a fellow rebel fighter believing he was aligned with forces supporting the country's President Bashar al-Assad.

An online statement from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), whose fighters apparently carried out the beheading, pleaded for forgiveness and asked for "restraint and piety" from anti-government supporters, reported CNN.

The beheaded man, later identified as Mohammed Fares, was an anti-government fighter wounded in clashes against the Syrian Army earlier in the week, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told CNN.

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According to The Associated Press, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitors the violence in Syria through a network of activists across the country.

"We call on God to accept Mohammed Fares into his Kingdom and to forgive his brothers that sought to rid us of the enemies of God and our enemies," CNN said Omar Al-Qahatani wrote in Arabic in the ISIL statement.

The AP said the beheading appeared to have happened in Aleppo, in northern Syria, where two ISIL fighters were videotaped displaying the severed head to a crowd on Wednesday.

On the video, the fighters claimed the head belonged to an Iraqi Shiite fighter allied to Assad, but residents later recognized it as belonging to a rebel commander, according to the AP.

The AP reported that Syrian activists told them that ISIL fighters found the wounded rebel in a hospital after a battle with government forces Wednesday. The rebel allegedly called out the names of saints recognized by Shiites, an Islamic sect whose members have largely sided with Assad, while emerging from anesthesia.

The AP said angry Ahrar al-Sham supporters responded by posting a video calling the ISIL fighters "idiots" and noted that the rebel fighter had longish hair and a full bushy beard typical of conservative Sunni Muslims.

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The AP reported that more than 120,000 people have died during the three years of violence in Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The United Nations told the Associated Press that in July roughly 100,000 Syrians have been killed and have not updated that figure since. Millions of Syrians have been left their residence looking for safe refuge since the fighting started, the U.N. told the AP.

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