In case you needed any further evidence that war, and perhaps particularly the war currently underway in Syria, is a barbaric and soul-sucking swamp of cruelty, the New York Times' C.J. Chivers offers up today a gruesome video of Syrian opposition soldiers executing seven captured members of Assad's forces. The soldiers are on their knees, bent sharply at the waist, shirtless. After a rebel commander known as "the Uncle" recites a religious poem, the men are shot to death by seven gunmen. The Times' video editors mercifully cut to black as the shots were fired.

There are probably thousands of similarly brutal videos on YouTube and elsewhere—there was notably a video of an opposition fighter attempting to cut out and eat the heart of a dead soldier—but the context for publishing this video as we contemplate entering the war on the opposition's behalf is that, as Chivers puts it, "many rebels have adopted some of the same brutal and ruthless tactics as the regime they are trying to overthrow."

This particular tactic—executing prisoners—violates Article 13 of the Third Geneva Convention, not to mention Article 50 of the First. (In moral terms, it is marginally more repugnant than, say, leaving an exposed detainee to freeze to death and covering up his death, a war crime that the Obama Administration seems equally uninterested in pursuing.)

Advertisement

The video, Chivers says, was smuggled out of Syria by "a former rebel who grew disgusted by the killings."

Anyway, no one will win this thing.