'US-backed' Syria rebels behead boy on camera
Published 21/07/2016 | 02:30
The US is investigating a video that appears to show members of one of the Syrian rebel groups it has funded beheading a child.
Images of a fighter cutting off the young boy's head with a knife matched some of the worst brutalities committed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil), which has killed hundreds of captives in Syria and neighbouring Iraq in the past three years.
The boy, who looked to be around 12 years old, was captured near Handarat refugee camp in northern Aleppo by Nour al-Din al-Zenki, the main opposition faction fighting the Syrian regime in the besieged city.
Before being killed, he is shown on the back of a truck being taunted by several men who claim he was from a Palestinian faction that fights in support of President Bashar al-Assad.
"This is a prisoner from the Quds brigade. They don't have men any more so they've sent us children today," one of the men is heard saying. "These are your dogs, Bashar, children of the Quds brigade," said another.
A fighter then cuts off his head and holds it up for the camera as others in the group shout "Allahu akbar", or God is great.
The graphic video has been shared on social media, where it has been met with outrage and condemnation.
The group has received military support from Washington.
Amnesty International reported earlier this year that the group was responsible for torture and forced confessions in Aleppo.
Mark Toner, a US state department spokesman, said Washington was seeking more information on what he described as "an appalling report".
Meanwhile, air strikes on Isil-held villages in northern Syria have killed at least 56 civilians, amid intense fighting between the militants and US-backed forces.
Residents in the area blamed the US-led coalition for the strikes that targeted two villages, Tokhar and Hoshariyeh, which are controlled by Isil, activists said.
The villages are near the Isil stronghold of Manbij, a town that members of the predominantly Kurdish US-backed Syria Democratic Forces have been trying to capture in a weeks-long offensive.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 56 civilians, including 11 children, were killed in the strikes on the villages, which also wounded dozens.