The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Sunday that Islamist rebels in the city executed 15-year-old Muhamma Qatta’ in the Sha'ar neighborhood of Aleppo, before the horrifed eyes of his parents. 

The punishment came after the boy was overheard by someone during an argument while he was working. “Even if Muhammad comes back to life, I won’t lend,” the boy reportedly said in his workplace, where he sold coffee and from where he was detained at 10 p.m. Sunday. He was later returned by the rebels to the area, his shirt covering his head and with his body marked from torture and beating.

The men who escorted him then announced to the crowd in classical Arabic that apostasy and cursing the prophet is a “terrible vice” and that anyone who does so will face a similar fate. The SOHR reported the boy was then shot by the two men with an automatic rifle in front of the crowd – which included the boy’s mother and father -- once in the neck and once in the head. The two men then drove away in their car, leaving the boy’s body behind.

An extremely graphic photo of the teen’s face, shot in the mouth and throat and covered in blood, is posted on the SOHR Facebook page. “The SOHR demands that the killers of the child be brought to justice,” said the Observatory in a statement on Facebook. “It is important to note that the Shari’a court of Aleppo has a security branch in the area but did not stop the summary execution of the boy.

Meanwhile, Syrian government troops are preparing for a siege of Aleppo, currently held by the rebel forces who plan to declare the northern commercial hub a separatist Islamist state.

Troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are “deploying heavily in the countryside near Aleppo in preparation for a battle that will be fought inside the city and on its outskirts,” said Syria’s al-Watan pro-government newspaper. 

Just days after Assad forces recaptured the town of Qusair with aid of Lebanese Hizbullah guerrilla fighters, the government troops now plan to do the same in Aleppo “in the coming hours or days.” The report went on to say, “Beseiged areas will be freed in the first stages and troops which have been on the defensive will on the offensive. The Syrian army will take advantage of its experience in Qusair and Eastern Ghouta (near Damascus) to advance in the provinces of Hama and Homs.”

A security source told the AFP news agency, “It is likely the battle for Aleppo will start in the coming hours or days, and its aim is to reclaim the towns and villages in the province.” Shi’ite fighters from the Hizbullah terrorist organization and from Iraq have been reinforcing the Syrian Army soldiers in their battles.  Last month, Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah vowed to fight “to the end” to put down the uprising and to “defend Lebanon” from “jihadist extremists.”