Sunday, February 12, 2012

Could there be some bad guys among the rebels too?

By Robert Fisk

"....As if the Syrian military needs to be taught how to shoot by the slightly decrepit Revolutionary Guards of Tehran. Stories of the brutality and cruelty of Syrian officials are true. Let's repeat that: stories, reports, images, YouTube, real recordings of these cruelties, are all true. But then there's the shocked face of my friend, neither Syrian nor a journalist, drinking coffee with me, who agrees with much of the story. Snipers, yes. "Most of the shooting victims are hit in the head or chest. If you are hit by a sniper, you are in a serious way." There has been shelling – of homes and of at least one clinic – and there are graves in gardens. But then there are the other little comments, almost forgettable but still disturbing. The habit of "Free Syrian Army" soldiers of playing Islamic music before crossing roads under sniper fire and of praying before pressing their foot on the gas. Well, nothing wrong in that, for heaven's sake.....

Could it be that the brave defenders of Homs include some very bad guys? Well, you may say, who can blame them? What resistance force, defending its people, has not admitted that "there may have been some excesses"?

My friend (no acolyte of the Baath party) expresses his absolute belief that if the FSA breaks out of Homs, there will be "massacres". The ethnic cleansing of the Christians, then, the nightmare that Assad evokes? And the rumours that Syrian tanks use heavy machine guns in cities but growl around without shells for their barrels – just in case they, too, defect? Could it be that shelling Homs is one thing, but levelling it to the ground a much more painful gamble of "will the tank-crews defect or not"?"

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