House to House Fighting in Aleppo
What would you do if you were told that somebody you knew had attacked and maybe even killed your family and friends? How would you feel if the person was free to do this sort of thing over and over again? And if you had the opportunity to kill this person would you?
For the Free Syrian Army this seems to have been the case when they captured a police station in Aleppo today. The rebel fighters were led to believe that the police they had taken prisoner as a result were shabiha. And that appears to be the reason these police officers were not just executed but beaten and publicly humiliated before being butchered.
Some believe that the police officers were taken to a near by school where they were gun down. The video shows the four officers being lined up and put on their knees. Then the rebels yell out "G-d is good" and commence to firing into the police. For about a 30 to 45 seconds the gunfire and screaming are all you can hear. The riddled bodies of the prisoners collapse under a hail of bullets. Then the video ends.
This is not a simple execution. This is retaliation. Reprisals for what the hated shabiha have done all across Syria. And yet nobody can confirm that these police officers were actually Assam's militia. No one can tell us for sure that these poor prisoners weren't just the target of the rebels' collective frustrations.
No matter what the case it is still wrong by our Western standards to savagely beat prisoners of war. It is blatantly wrong to execute them... let alone with a barrage of bullets that last long enough to kill the prisoners 10 times over.
Human rights groups that have had sympathy for the rebels' cause now find themselves squeamish when it comes to supporting a fight as brutal as that which Assad himself has fought. Of course it is hard to compare 4 prisoners to 20,000 plus casualties Assad's campaign has racked up. And nobody can say that this is on the same level as slaughtering innocent children to terrify their parents (Assad's favorite method of oppression). But none the less it is the first step toward a bitter end where both sides fight a war with the idea of "an eye for an eye... a tooth for a tooth".
Meanwhile Jay Carney, White House Press Secretary, has noted that Assad is absent from the fight.
"His recent remarks show him for the coward that he is," Jay Carney referencing Assad. "He hides out of sight, encouraging the heavily armed Syria military to continue slaughtering civilians in his name."
Other Western governments have been noticing the same thing as the White House this past week. The Arab League has decided to go to the UN and make an official call for Assad to step down. One can only assume that Assad's lack of courage to come out into the open has spurred this unprecedented course of action onward. After all, since a bomb attack killed four of Assad's top officials on July 18Th the cowardly leader has been missing in action. And it seems that even the Arab League's request may not bring him back out into the open.
So now the world will wait to see what comes of Aleppo.
While Assad's neighbors plead with the West to force him to step down the commercial hub of Syria burns. This decisive battle the West wants to see in Aleppo appears to be a fight that could last weeks. For the the countless number of civilians trapped in the cross fire this battle may end in a humanitarian disaster not seen since Srebrenica. And all we here on the other side of the world can do is wait, watch, and pray.