- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Syrian opposition leaders say they will put on trial a rebel commander shown on a Web video apparently eating the heart of a dead Syrian soldier.

Human Rights Watch identified the rebel commander as Abu Sakkar, based in the city of Homs, and said his actions were a war crime.

“I swear to God we will eat your hearts and your livers, you soldiers of [Syrian President] Bashar [Assad] the dog,” Mr. Sakar says to the accompaniment offscreen cheers of his comrades shouting “Allahu akbar” — “God is great” in Arabic.

The National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, the main internationally backed Syrian rebel umbrella group, said Mr. Sakar would be put on trial, the BBC reported.

“The mutilation of the bodies of enemies is a war crime,” Peter Bouckaert, of Human Rights Watch, told Reuters news agency. “But the even more serious issue is the very rapid descent [of the Syrian conflict] into sectarian rhetoric and violence.”

He added that, in the unedited version of the film, Mr. Sakkar instructs his men to “slaughter the Alawites and take their hearts out to eat them,” before biting into the heart.

Mr. Assad and most members of his government are from the minority Alawite Shi’ite sect of Islam. Most of the rebel fighters are from the majority Sunni sect.