SYRIA

Al Qaeda Executes Dozens Of Syrian Soldiers In ISIS-Style Video

The video is the latest sign of an ongoing rivalry between ISIS and al Qaeda

Nov 25, 2015 at 4:58 AM ET

Al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, released an ISIS-style execution video on Wednesday, the latest sign of an ongoing rivalry between the terror groups.

The 23-minute video, which Vocativ discovered using our deep web technology, allegedly shows 42 Syrian Army soldiers seconds before they were killed at an airbase in the Syrian province of Idlib. The Nusra Front captured the airbase, called Abu al-Duhur, in September after a two-year siege. It was the last military base held by the Syrian regime in the province, and seizing it was considered a great achievement for al Qaeda-linked militants.

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The video is strikingly similar to execution videos released by ISIS, which routinely publishes propaganda videos, audio statements and images celebrating extreme brutality. It starts with clips of battles that appear to be recorded using a drone, continues with “interviews” of Syrian Army soldiers captured during fighting and ends with scenes showing 42 armed men standing behind 42 prisoners. Guns are held to their heads, and a Nusra Front fighter declares that the captives can be punished with execution according to sharia law for their loyalty to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who they describe as a criminal dictator.

There’s one key difference between the video and those published by ISIS. At the end a fighter yells “prepare!” to fire and the sound of shooting rings out, without picturing the actual moment of execution, unlike ISIS videos.

A screen shot from the video shows Nusra Front fighters standing behind Syrian soldiers. It appears parts of the video were shot with a drone.

Al Qaeda and the Islamic State have been been fighting for control of territory in Syria. The competition has spread to a global scale, manifesting in what appear to be attempts to outdo each other in lethal assaults on a range of targets. Among the latest indications of the rivalry was an online squabble that erupted after 170 hostages were seized at a hotel in the capital of Mali last week. Supporters of the groups fought over who was responsible.