NYT’s J. David Goodman - on the background of yesterday’s summary/revenge execution video. Those who were killed are supposedly from one same clan (Barri) - and they were thought to be Shabiha or worked for the regime.
[…] As’ad AbuKhalil, a professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus, wrote on his Angry Arab blog of the large size of the Barri clan, which, by some estimates, number in the thousands.
Quoting an unnamed Syria observer, Mr. AbuKhalil wrote that the family was thought to have ties to criminal gangs and guns: “Their elders (they include an MP) were known for attacking demonstrations in their areas and beating protesters, as well as recruiting and financing thugs. But these are, of course, a small section of a very large family.” Rebels had secured an agreement from the Barri family to remain neutral in the current fighting in Aleppo, the observer said, but the agreement broke down on Tuesday.
A man said to be a rebel leader in the fight against the Barri clan gave an explanation for the killings in a video posted on Tuesday, saying a battalion of rebel fighters had been unexpectedly attacked by a large number of armed shabiha, killing 15 rebels. He said that after a long firefight, roughly 50 of the pro-government fighters were captured and a small number were killed for their role in the rebel deaths.
Mona Mahmood, a Guardian reporter, spoke by phone on Wednesday to a man said to represent the armed group, who echoed reports that a deal between the Barri clan and rebel forces had broken down on Tuesday, leading to the clash and the executions.
“We were in a truce with the Barri clan, which are shabiha clan,” the man, identified as Basheer al-Haji, told The Guardian. “We were attacking one of the police stations in the city and Barri clan began shooting against us from behind.” He said they captured 50 people and immediately held a kind of “field trial” for them.
“We have judges and lawyers who are in the opposition,” he said. “They found that seven of the Barri clan were involved in killing and they decided to execute them. Others are kept for trial after the collapse of the regime.”
Underscoring the decentralized nature of the rebels fighting under the banner of the Free Syrian Army, a battalion in the city of Homs posted a video earlier this week proclaiming that they would adhere to international law in the treatment of detainees.
“We are committed as best we can to applying the articles and subarticles of the Geneva Convention No. 4 that details the treatment of prisoners of war,” read a man who was identified as a fighter with the Farouq Brigade in Homs, while sitting in front of the rebel flag.
“We are committed to treating them in a humane way, and we tell everyone that we are revolting against a barbarous regime that always tortured and treated detainees and arrestees in brutal ways that led to the death of many,” he said. “That is why we can never adopt the behavior of that very entity we are revolting against.”