Half naked, unarmed and trembling with fear, a group of captured pro-Assad soldiers are made to kneel to face a wall in Syria's war-torn Aleppo.
Their crime is to have been members of Shabiha, a militia group aligned to President Bashar al Assad's regime, and their sentence has been decided.
Even through the grainy images of this amateur recording, the guns in their captors' hands are clear, as is the punishment awaits them.
But seconds later the air is filled with the deafening rattle of machine gun fire.
|Defiant: President Assad issued a rousing battle |
cry to his troops insisting that their battle against
rebels would determine Syria's fate
Salaheddine resembles a ghost town, its shops shuttered, with little sign of normal life. 'The regime has tried for three days to regain Salaheddine, but its attempts have failed and it has suffered heavy losses in human life, weapons and tanks, and it has been forced to withdraw,' said Colonel Abdel-Jabbar al-Oqaidi, head of the Joint Military Council, one of several rebel groups in Aleppo. Oqaidi, who defected from the army six months ago, told Reuters that more than 3,000 rebel fighters were in Aleppo.
According to an NBC News report, the rebels have acquired nearly two dozen surface-to-air missiles, which were delivered to them via neighbouring Turkey. The missiles could tilt the battlefield balance if the rebels were able to shoot down government helicopter and war planes. The fighting has proved costly for the 2.5 million residents of Aleppo, a commercial hub with an ancient Old City that was slow to join the anti-Assad revolt that has rocked Damascus and other cities. Thousands have fled and those who remain face shortages of food and fuel as well as the risk of injury or death.
Makeshift clinics in rebel-held areas struggle to deal with dozens of casualties after more than a week of fighting. Up to 18,000 people have been forced to leave their homes in Aleppo and many frightened residents were seeking shelter in schools, mosques and public buildings, according to the U.N. refugee agency in Geneva. Rebel fighters, patrolling parts of Aleppo in pick-up trucks flying green-white-and-black 'independence' flags, face a daunting task in taking on the well-equipped Syrian army. Armed with Kalashnikov rifles, machineguns and rocket-propelled grenades, they are up against a military that can deploy fighter jets, helicopter gunships, tanks, armoured fighting vehicles, artillery and mortars. Western and anti-Assad Arab states have for months been urging the Syrian opposition to unite. Read article: Shocking amateur video shows Syrian rebels execute Assad soldiers as battle for Aleppo intensifies | Mail Online