Syrian rebel “beheaded by mistake”

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A rebel group in Syria, who is affiliated with al-Qaeda, is asking for forgiveness after they beheaded another rebel in a case of mistaken identity.

A video recently posted online showed members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) brandishing the severed, bearded head of a man, they said was an Iraqi Shia caught fighting on the government side. But other rebel fighters watching the video recognised the man and said he was one of their commanders.

The video of the beheading shows two ISIS fighters in Aleppo province – one holding a knife – brandish a severed, bearded head, denouncing their victim as an Iraqi volunteer for President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. They decry his immorality, saying he is a heathen – one of those who have threatened rape of men as much as women.

Other rebels identified the beheaded man. Members of the hardline Islamist rebel group, Harakat Ahrar al-Sham, said he was not a government fighter at all, but one of their own. They said he was a commander called Mohammed Fares Maroush.

He is believed to have been wounded in the recent battle for Base 80, south of Aleppo, with government forces and was being taken for medical treatment by rebel fighters.

But he seems to have been captured by fellow militia. The militia is dominated by Alawites, members of the president’s heterodox Shia sect.

Mr Fares is reported to have offered prayers that would have made him seem a Shia rather than a Sunni – and therefore on their side.

This was heard by ISIS fighters, and in the growing atmosphere of sectarian hatred, he was then subjected to his savage fate, our correspondent adds.

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