In what is perhaps a fitting symbol for a country where negotiations are a last resort, Syria has apparently put to death an army officer who was seen speaking to rebel troops, reassuring them that they could trust the government of Bashar al-Assad if they lay down their weapons.
A Youtube video uploaded last week showed reserve Syrian Army General Mustafa Abed al-Karim Shadud speaking to rebel troops during a “break” in fighting between rebels and Syrian Army soldiers. In the video, Shadud is seen telling rebel soldiers that “the army does not want to hurt you. We are your brothers, we are with you. We do not seek to destroy you, you are part of our people,” he said, adding “we do not wish to kill our brothers.”
But just days later, Shadud met his end. In a laconic statement, the Syrian Army said that Shadud had been injured badly in battle. He was taken for emergency treatment, but doctors unfortunately were unable to save his life.
Shadud's family is skeptical over the report, and believes that he was executed. According to the army, Shadud was injured in his leg, a type of injury that is usually non life-threatening, the family told Western sources. In the worst case, the leg would have been amputated, they said.
Syrian rebel leaders said that this was the army's way of informing officers and soldiers of the consequences of trying to talk to rebels, instead of killing them.