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We Beheaded The Wrong Man, Syrian Terrorists Say

A member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant urges Syrians in the city of Aleppo to fight against the Assad regime. This week, the militants apologized for beheading a commander from another anti-Assad group.
Karam al-Masri
/
AFP/Getty Images
A member of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant urges Syrians in the city of Aleppo to fight against the Assad regime. This week, the militants apologized for beheading a commander from another anti-Assad group.

"Militant Islamist rebels in Syria ... have asked for 'understanding and forgiveness' for cutting off and putting on display the wrong man's head," The Telegraph reports.

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which has links to al-Qaida, posted a video online earlier this week in which some of its members are seen "brandishing the severed, bearded head of a man," writes the BBC. The rebels claimed the man was a fighter in forces that support Syrian President Bashar Assad.

But after the video's posting, members of Harakat Ahrar al-Sham — another Islamist rebel group — said the man was one of their commanders, Mohammed Fares.

The Telegraph writes that Fares may have been injured in battle and then captured. "Thinking he had been captured by members of a Shia militia against which he was fighting," he might have asked to be killed, the newspaper adds.

In its apology, the group that beheaded Fares says, "We call on God to accept Mohammed Fares into his Kingdom and to forgive his brothers that sought to rid us of the enemies of God and our enemies," CNN reports.

The mistakenly beheaded man, by the way, was not the former Syrian Air Force general — and first Syrian astronaut — named Mohammed Fares who defected in August 2012.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.
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