The Guardian is reporting that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's security forces engaged in an act that has become a hallmark of the world's most repressive regimes and, to our knowledge, has not been reported previously during the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa: shooting soldiers for refusing to fire on their fellow citizens.
The article, filed by a pseudonymous journalist in Damascus, builds on earlier Al Jazeera and BBC reports of soldiers refusing to fire on anti-government protesters in the coastal city of Banias on Friday. Wissam Tarif, the executive director of the human rights group INSAN, tells The Guardian that one of these soldiers, Mourad Hejjo, was shot by security snipers, according to his family and neighbors. The Guardian also points to a video of an injured soldier claiming he was shot in the back by security forces and another video showing the funeral of Muhammad Awad Qunbar, who unnamed sources tell The Guardian was killed after he wouldn't fire on demonstrators. Syrian state media, The Guardian adds, have reported events differently, stating that nine soldiers were killed in an ambush by an armed group in Banias.
In a tweet on the Friday of the Banias protests, Tarif also noted that "community leaders" in the southern city of Daraa--another hotbed for protests--were confirming that a "Captain in the Syrian army was sniped when refused to order shooting protesters."