BEIRUT (Reuters) - Two youths from Shi’ite villages in northern Syria have been executed by members of an al Qaeda-linked Islamist rebel group, according to a video uploaded to the Internet on Wednesday by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The British-based monitoring group, which is opposed to President Bashar Al-Assad, said the execution took place on Tuesday or Wednesday in Aleppo province.
The executions are the latest incident of sectarian violence in Syria’s nearly two and a half year civil war, which began with peaceful protests but has descended into sectarian hatred, pitting Sunni majority rebels against Assad’s Alawite sect and Shi’ite Hezbollah.
In the video, two blindfolded youths kneel before a masked man who reads a statement in the name of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, one of the strongest rebel groups in Syria.
The man identifies the youths as coming from Nubul and al-Zahra, predominantly Shi’ite villages in the mostly rebel-held countryside northwest of Aleppo city. He says the group kidnapped them to exchange them for prisoners but was now executing them in response to the failure of that exchange.
The man exits from view after finishing his statement and voices off camera shout “God is great” before the youths appear to be struck by more than twenty rounds of gunfire and fall to the ground motionless.
More than 100,000 people have died in Syria’s civil war and millions have been displaced. UN investigators say Assad’s forces and rebels have both committed war crimes.
(This story is refiled to add Syria to headline)
Reporting by Stephen Kalin; editing by Patrick Graham