Lebanon's Hezbollah members carry the coffin of their comrade Wissam Sharafeddine, who was killed in the recent eastern Ghouta battles in Damascus, Syria, during his funeral in Recheknanay village, southern Lebanon, November 30, 2013. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group, said more than 400 people had been killed across Syria since Thursday, many of them in the battles around Ghouta and Qalamoun. Casualties on both sides have been heavy, with Hezbollah losing at least 25 fighters in eastern Ghouta over the last week, according to security sources in Lebanon. REUTERS/Haidar Hawila (LEBANON - Tags: CIVIL UNREST MILITARY POLITICS CONFLICT) - RTX15YV5

Syrian Rebels Are Cutting Off the Heads of Hezbollah Fighters

Beheadings have a long history in the Mideast as a means both to intimidate and to punish

Lebanese militants have been streaming into Syria in recent months to help that government in its war with the rebels—and by all accounts, they’ve been making a difference in an ongoing and critical battle in eastern Syria.

Desperate to slow that tide, Syrian rebels are trying a brutal new tactic to dissuade Hezbollah militants from crossing the border: They’re decapitating captured fighters and sending the heads back home to Lebanon, according to several reports and pictures posted on various sites.

One Israeli Facebook page called “News In SOS” quoted and translated Syrian rebel sources late last month saying they sent 40 Hezbollah fighters’ beheaded bodies to Beirut, and graphic photos of the heads have been popping up on some of the rebels’ Facebook and Twitter pages (like here and here and here).

Also late last month, Raad Hammadi, commander of the Syrian rebel group Bilal al-Habashi Battalion, told the Egyptian newspaper Al-Akhbar that he would spare no supporter of Hezbollah, and showed footage of three beheaded corpses he claimed belonged to Hezbollah members.

Outlets in Lebanon have also covered the phenomemon. The Lebanese news blog LebanonWindow published graphic photos of a Hezbollah fighter from the southern city of Nabatia who died in Syria, including details of how he was beheaded. (The translation of the caption is: “The photo of Hezbollah’s fighter Ali Eizz A-din Szim’s chopped head.”)

Lebanese militants have been piling into Syria since May in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in the nearly three-year civil war. Many of the estimated thousands of militants are currently in Qalamoun, where they’ve been waging a brutal battle alongside the Syrian military against the rebel forces. It is not entirely clear which group of rebels in Qalamoun is responsible for the beheadings.

The rebels aren’t the only group in the Syrian war that is lopping off the heads of enemy fighters. The ISIS, an Al-Qaeda faction opposed to President Bashar Assad’s regime, has also beheaded captured fighters. According to the Daily Mail, the group has performed a number of public decapitations (often in front of young children), in which the captive is forced to kneel in the middle of a jeering crowd, and the captor beheads them triumphantly with a sword. The heads are then displayed as a show of victory.

Straddling Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley, Qalamoun connects Damascus to Homs, two major Syrian cities. Those who control it have access to supplies from other areas. The regime wants to regain Qalamoun to secure a link between Damascus and the coastal province of Latakia, which is dominated by Assad’s Alawite sect. The rebels, meanwhile, depend on Qalamoun’s border with Lebanon to smuggle in supplies and weapons from supporters in Lebanon.

Hezbollah’s presence significantly strengthens the Syrian military’s fighting capacity in the war, which has reached something of a stalemate. The rebels, meanwhile, are trapped. In order to increase their chances of survival, they are hoping to scare Hezbollah’s fighters into staying on their side of the border.

Beheadings have a long history in the Middle East, both to intimidate people and to punish them. Saudi Arabia has beheaded women for various alleged crimes. Extremists in Iraq and Pakistan have beheaded soldiers and journalists. Jihadis in Sinai decapitated a man this summer for being Christian. The message from Syrian rebels to Hezbollah fighters is: If you cross the border, you won’t return in one piece.

Even some people who have had close ties to Hezbollah criticize its military intervention in the Syrian civil war. In an interview with Al Arabiya News, former Hezbollah Secretary-General Subhi al-Tufayli said that Hezbollah’s role as a unifier in the Islamic world has been tarnished. Al-Tufayli, whose current relationship to Hezbollah’s leadership isn’t clear, blames Iran’s control over the organization.

For its part, Hezbollah has been weakened by the war in neighboring Syria. The group has lost thousands of fighters, including key leaders, and has spent a lot of money and resources participating in the war. At the same time, it is losing its legitimacy as a political party inside Lebanon because of criticism of its involvement in Syria.

However, it is still the strongest organization in Lebanon, with one of the bigger rockets arsenal in the world. And of course, it has Iran’s ongoing backing. Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah declared a few short weeks ago that the group would stay in Syria for as long as needed.

Respond Now
  • The U.S. must stay out of this situation.No aid like guns that could later be turned on us.History reveals the only way to unite both sidesis a comman enemy they can both fight.Don’t let it be the U.S.

  • This is like a perfect storm for Americans. It is a shame that both sides can’t lose.

  • The men in that photo just look like they are having too much fun.

  • Beheading has been a tried AND true method of insuring that you fight an enemy ONLY once!!! There is NO recidifism from beheading… Long live Old Testament vengence!

    1 Reply - Reply Now
    • what an idioit

  • I feel we are not acting slamic way that we should.   We are killing each other and destroyang our nation and people.  That is how I feel about this unfortunately issue.

  • Show More
  • Let’um  kill each other off

  • Animals.

  • I love it when a plan comes together.

  • Whoa, the old neighborhood is getting rougher . . . 

  • 1400 years of “inbreeding” has made the whole Muslim world nutty

    1 Reply - Reply Now
    • beheading has been in the middle for generations and will allways be there as a deturent but all it does is cause more to come to fight the insult 

  • This article lost all credibility once it said that Israeli Facebook was a source. Thanks for the obvious propaganda.

    2 Replies - Reply Now
    • jew haterthe israelis have the best intelligence in the mideast

    • Look in the mirror. You fit your name? 

  • Hezbollah brains are tasty.

  • These are the rebels we should sippirt

  • 1. Alaqaeda is getting stronger in Syria.2. If Asad falls, Alqaeda will have there own country. 3. Asad regime is secular and pluralist and minorities , including Christan, alwaites, shia and kurds are far safer than if Alqaeda rules the country.4. Americans and european governments have turned a blind eye to the reality5. Soon hundreds of Osama bin laden will emerge from Syria if West does not help Asad.6. All the citizens of America and europe and rest of the civilized world please raise your voice in front of your governments to stop helping Alqaeda in Syria.7. If things go one like this , then expect lotz of more 9/11 like incidents in future.8.  People of America , europe and rest of civilized world be aware that iIf Alqaeda wins in Syria , soon these Alqaeda extremists wil be beheading your kids in your own countries and in your own towns and villages .

    1 Reply - Reply Now
    • Omer, I respect what you say but would like to point out one fact that is incorrect…Al Qaeda will NEVER behead ANYONE in the United States or on US soil.The United States is the most heavily armed and defended country in the world. Besides the fact our military would decimate anything that tried, the civilian population in the United States is armed to the teeth. IF for some reason these “Al Qaeda” were to get a footing on US soil, there would be about 50 MILLION (at the least) armed men to confront them and it would be a slaughter.I hope things work out in the middle east and Syria. It is sad to see people fighting each other in their own country.God bless us all.

  • The more heads that get removed from either side, the less heads we will have to deal with at a later time.I say arm BOTH sides.


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