The Syrian conflict is quickly descending into sectarian violence and a ghastly new amateur video posted on the internet on Sunday is evidence for it.
The video appears to show a Syrian rebel, believed to be Abu Sakkar — the well known founder of Homs’ Independent Omar al-Farouq Brigade — carving into the body of a dead government soldier in a ditch and cutting out his heart and liver.
Holding them up to the camera, he declares, “I swear to God we will eat your hearts out, you soldiers of Bashar the dog.”
His rant against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is surrounded by off screen cheers of his comrades shouting "Allahu akbar" (God is great).
He then lifts the heart to his mouth and takes a bite. (Warning: video is graphic)
According to Reuters, the horrific video has caused outrage among the supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as well as opposition groups.
Emergencies Director of Human Rights Watch Peter Bouckaert said Abu Sakkar's identity has been confirmed by rebel sources in Homs as well as images of him in other videos wearing the same black jacket.
"The mutilation of the bodies of enemies is a war crime. But the even more serious issue is the very rapid descent into sectarian rhetoric and violence," said Bouckaert in a Reuters article.
Nearly 70,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011, according to UN figures.
Beginning in February 2012, the Baba Amr district of Homs was subjected to weeks of brutal attacks by the Syrian army on both opposition activists and civilians.
The president repeatedly denied attacking civilians, saying the army was targeting "armed gangs and foreign terrorists" that want to end his regime.
Human Rights Watch, however, said the horrifying act in the video is inexcusable, regardless of the horrors taking place in Homs.
"It is not enough for Syria's opposition to condemn such behavior or blame it on violence by the government," said Middle East Deputy Director Nadim Houry in a CNN article. "The opposition forces need to act firmly to stop such abuses."
According to a BBC article, Syria's opposition coalition strongly condemned the attack, and if revealed to be true, "the culprit will eventually be tried in court in front of an honest and fair judiciary."
The atrocious act seen in the video, however, could result in an equal if not worse response by extremist supporters of President Bashar al-Assad.
"Abu Sakkar is a very significant commander — he's in charge of one of the most important battles happening in Syria right now," said Bouckaert. "The danger is that extremists on both sides will feel the need to respond in kind."