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Syria: Video showing beheading of boy 'truly plumbed the depths of depravity'

Abuses by Nour al-Dine Zinki Movement -  believed to be behind the killing - documented in earlier Amnesty report

A video showing the beheading of a boy in northern Syria shows that members of armed groups have truly plumbed the depths of depravity, Amnesty International said today.

The video, believed to be filmed near Aleppo, shows a man standing on the back of a truck carrying out an execution-style killing of a boy. 

Amnesty cannot independently verify the details of the incident but a report released earlier this month highlights a pattern of similar abuses by armed groups in the region, including the Nour al-Dine Zinki Movement, which is believed to be the group behind this killing.

The Nour al-Dine Zinki Movement issued a statement condemning the beheading and tried to distance itself from the incident, describing it as an “individual error”, as well as re-affirming its commitment to respecting human rights.

Philip Luther, Amnesty’s Middle East and North Africa Programme Director, said:

“This horrific video showing the beheading of a boy suggests some members of armed groups have truly plumbed the depths of depravity. It is yet another gruesome example of the summary killing of captives, which amounts to a war crime.

“All detainees, including captured fighters, must be treated humanely, and children in particular must be protected. This appalling incident appears to point to a pattern of abuses by armed groups in northern Syria who have free rein to commit summary killings, abductions and torture without any prospect of being held accountable.

“In addition to condemning such abuses leaders of armed opposition groups must remove from their ranks any members suspected of committing serious violations of international humanitarian law.

“Internationally, states taking part in talks over the Syria conflict must use any influence they have to pressure all armed groups engaged in the conflict to end violations of international humanitarian law including abductions, torture and other ill-treatment.”

Amnesty has also documented indiscriminate attacks that killed and injured civilians, in the Sheikh Maqsoud district of Aleppo city which were carried out by the Fatah Halab coalition of armed groups, which includes the Nour al-Dine Zinki Movement.

It remains the case that the vast majority of people who have died in custody during the last five years have been in the custody of the Syrian authorities.

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