A foreign-backed militant who was seen eating an organ of a dead Syrian soldier in a recent video has confirmed the authenticity of the 27-second clip.
In an interview with Time magazine conducted via Skype on Tuesday, Khalid al Hamad, known by his nom de guerre Abu Sakkar, confirmed that the video is real and that he did indeed take a bite of the soldier’s lung.
The video shows him cutting out some of the soldier's organs and biting into one. At the time of the filming, al Hamad believed that he was eating the man’s liver, but A surgeon who saw the video said the organ in question was actually a lung.
Other Syrian militants condemned the "horrific and inhumane" action and said he should be arrested or killed for committing the atrocity.
Human Rights Watch said it was a war crime.
In April, two Time reporters saw the video and a few weeks later obtained a copy of it. Witnesses to the filming told Time that the video was legitimate, but the magazine’s journalists initially did not release the video, believing it could have been faked for propaganda purposes, then attempted to authenticate it, and only publicized it after al Hamad confirmed that the video was real.
On Sunday, a copy of the video appeared online and sparked a flood of Facebook “shares” and YouTube views.
Human Rights Watch, which validated the video, issued a report on Monday in which it called on the United Nations Security Council to refer the Syria situation to the International Criminal Court to ensure accountability for all war crimes and crimes against humanity.
“It is not enough for Syria’s opposition to condemn such behavior or blame it on violence by the government,” said Nadim Houry, HRW’s Deputy Middle East Director. “The opposition forces need to act firmly to stop such abuses.”
“I have another video clip that I will send to them. In the clip I am sawing another Shabiha [pro-government militiaman] with a saw. The saw we use to cut trees. I sawed him in small pieces and large ones,” al Hamad told Time.
The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.