A series of videos circulating on social media which purportedly show pro-Assad fighters desecrating the graves and bodies of opposition fighters has sent shockwaves through Arabic media.
The footage was recorded in a graveyard in Khan al Sebel village, located south of war-torn Idlib, according to the Syrian Network for Human Rights (SNHR).
The fighters are allegedly members the infamous Shabiha militias, which have been loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime since before the civil war, MEMO have reported.
The men can be seen pelting the gravestone of a senior Syrian opposition figure with rocks, before kicking and destroying it.
The grave is that of Muhannad Ammar Eddine, a brigade commander in the Free Syrian Army killed in June 2014, according to Arab media sources.
Khan el Sebel is located beside the strategic M5 highway, most of which the regime in Damascus now controls.
In another video, a militia fighter is shown playing with the skull of an opposition fighter before asking it: “Be honest with me, tell me, are you the one who tried to bother me?” to which his companion laughs.
One militant who appeared in the graveyard video has also appeared in other videos, driving past the graveyard and calling the inhabitants “impure”, promising to settle his account “with the dead before the living”.
This is not the first time forces loyal to Assad have reportedly dug up graves in areas under their control.
In January 2015, government forces exhumed graves and stole dozens of corpses in the city of Old Homs, according to SNHR.
The regime’s latest destruction of graves comes amid the ongoing bombardment of Idlib, the country’s last major opposition stronghold.
A fragile ceasefire brokered by Turkey and Russia in 2018 collapsed when both the Syrian regime and key ally Russia, launched a campaign to recapture the area in April last year.
Latest UN estimates suggest that nearly 700,000 people have been displaced, living in open-air shelters and temporary homes in freezing conditions near the Turkish border.