‘Don’t Drag our Revolution through the Mud!” Farouk Brigade Commander Denies Claims of the self-proclaimed “Executioner of Homs”
Posted by Joshua on Saturday, April 14th, 2012
The Commander of the Farouk Brigade of Homs denies the claims of the self-proclaimed Executioner of Homs. made in the article, “The Burial Brigade of Homs: An Executioner for Syria’s Rebels Tells His Story”, published on 29 March 2012 by the German news magazine SPIEGEL online.
A German reporter friend asked me to post the following interview with Abdel Razaq Tlass, commander of Al Farouk brigade (FSA, Homs) which was published by Qantara. The reporter writes:
Today, Syria´s Ambassador to the UN (Jaafari) referred in his speech to this article (minute 6´50) wrongly citing, the important article of the German magazine DER SPIEGEL“ – it was SPIEGEL ONLINE which is independent of DER SPIEGEL). Many Syrians feel that this uncritical report destroys the overall image of the Syrian revolution.
We all know that executions of Shabbihas take place, especially in places like Homs. But the answers of Tlass suggest that there is no systematic system of judging and killing that is being controlled or ordered by the FSA-command. This is, as you know, very important. And for me as a colleague of Ulrike I consider it unprofessional not to doubt any of the descriptions of her witness in Tripoli and to not even try to check these allegations with somebody in Homs.
You know how difficult it is to interview Tlass, the interviewer had to stay anonymous but I know that the interview was properly conducted, translated and authorized.
Unfortunately SPIEGEL ONLINE didn’t see any reason for publishing the interview with Abdel Razaq Tlass. The editors comment:
We carefully investigated the story of the executioner of Bab Amr. Our correspondent as well as several other colleagues of our editorial staff have been following the developments in Syria with accuracy and detailed knowledge for years. I can´t find any sensationalism in our reports. We don´t see any reason to deviate from our reporting.“
Please note that the criticism explicitly refers to the work of SPIEGEL ONLINE, not to the reporting of the news magazin DER SPIEGEL which works independently of SPIEGEL ONLINE.
In an article entitled “The Burial Brigade of Homs:”, the German news magazine SPIEGEL online asserted that the Free Syrian Army has been responsible for the systematic sentencing, torture and execution of militiamen, soldiers and supporters of the Assad regime.
In an interview with Sakr El Horea, the commander of the Al Farouk Brigade in Homs, Abdel Razaq Tlass, denies the accusations
Have members of the irregular state Shabiha militia group been executed by the Free Syrian Army (FSA)? If so, were these isolated cases or are executions a regular occurrence, for instance, after guilt has been proven?
Abdel Razaq Tlass: From the very start, the task of the FSA in Homs has been to protect the demonstrators and to support the work of activists on the local coordination committees in Homs. This cooperation has allowed us to provide the world with information on the massacres committed by the regime. The Al Farouk Brigade has not conducted any executions of Shabiha militiamen or any captured soldiers. The brigade does not see itself as a court.
The SPIEGEL online article describes an organization that consists of a summary court, interrogation brigade and burial brigade. Does such a structure exist in Homs?
Tlass: No. There is neither an execution brigade nor a summary court brigade. The Al Farouk Brigade interrogates prisoners without resorting to psychological or physical torture. There is no interrogation brigade, as interrogations are usually conducted by the leaders of the brigade.
Abdel Razaq Tlass, one of the first deserters and the nephew of the long-serving Syrian Defence Minister Mustafa Tlass, is regarded as an important figure within the Free Syrian Army
How many soldiers from the regular Syrian Army, how many Shabiha militiamen and how many Assad supporters have been killed?
Tlass: You have to differentiate between two things: many regime soldiers were killed during the fighting between Assad’s troops and the FSA in Homs, during the defence of civilians by the FSA, and as a consequence of FSA attacks on military bases. Unfortunately, I can’t provide you with an exact number. However, the FSA has never conducted any executions or the targeted killing of individuals.
The witness in the SPIEGEL online article describes how a member of the burial brigade cut the throat of a prisoner condemned to death by the FSA.
Tlass: We categorically reject such a form of killing. No executions are carried out on behalf of the FSA.
How does the FSA determine the guilt of prisoners? Does the FSA use torture during interrogation? If so, what form of torture?
Tlass: We do not employ any form of torture during our interrogations.
Is there any cooperation between the local coordination committee and the Al Farouk Brigade when sentencing of prisoners?
Tlass: There is no sentencing of prisoners. The purpose of interrogations is to gain information and to gather evidence. Videos are made in which the prisoners describe their actions. In exchange, we release them. Convictions, however, do not take place….. [continue]