A gruesome and horrifying video has emerged from Syria that shows a Syrian rebel leader known as Abu Sakkar, a famous insurgent from the city of Homs, cutting open the chest of a captured government soldier, removing his heart and liver and taking a bite from the heart. The act has been described as a horrifying war crimes from the Humans Rights Watch, a US-based international human-rights NGO.

Syria Civil War map Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The video can be viewed HERE (Warning graphic content, not for children). In the video Abu Sakkar stands over the corpse of a government solider in a ditch. He has a knife in his hand and cuts into the soldier's chest while another rebel off camera says the haunting and disturbing line, "God bless you, Abu Sakkar, you look like you are drawing a heart of love on him."

Abu Sakkar then removes the heart and liver hold it up and says, "I swear to God, soldiers of Bashar, you dogs - we will eat your heart and livers! God is great! Oh, my heroes of Baba Amr, you slaughter the Alawites and take their hearts out to eat them!" Finally he brings the heart close into his mouth and appears to either take a bite or be preparing to take a bite, after which the video abruptly cuts off. New York Times says a bite was not depicted while Time Magazine and CNN, which originally obtained the video, say that a chunk of the heart was torn off.

Aleppo bombing Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Civil wars are expected to be bloody but the act appeared to shock everyone, including the rebels themselves, who said it was not representative of their cause and that the man responsible would be arrested and prosecuted for war crimes, "Look, it is very clear that these kinds of behaviors, this cutting of bodies, is not allowed. If there is evidence that fighters from the FSA are doing something against human rights or international law, they will be brought before the court," said Brigadier General Salim Idris, head of the Syrian Military Council, which ostensibly commands the rebel forces.

Regardless of whether the heart was actually consumed, the mutilation of the corpse is in violation of the laws of war requiring that, "each party to the conflict must take all possible measures to prevent the dead from being despoiled."

It is unclear what relation Abu Sakkar, whose real name might be Khalid al-Hamad, has to the Free Syrian Army. He is commander of the Independent Omar al-Farouq Brigade, which consists of about 60 members in the Homs area. It's possible that he has been responsible for atrocities in the past such as shelling towns in Lebanon with rockets:

The video may bolster the argument of Assad loyalists that the rebels are made up of terrorists and barbarians, though Time cautions that Assad forces have been known to produce false and modified propaganda videos and they have been unable to verify its truth.

Regardless, what appears to be certain is that the Syrian Civil War is becoming an increasingly vicious and bloody struggle. As the conflict drags on, both sides are becoming less inclined to show mercy.

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