In a sign that Syrian rebels are starting to adopt the same gruesome tactics as Syrian security forces, a video has surfaced today which appears to show rebels executing four Assad loyalists. A report by The BBC confirmed the authenticity of the footage in which men are lined up against a wall and killed in a hail of gunfire by Kalashnikov-wielding rebels. After the smoke clears from the shooting, a pile of bodies is shown followed by the chanting "God is Greater." (The video was noted by Reuters this morning, though the agency could note confirm its authenticity at the time.) Now human rights activists are condemning the executions, such as the head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which described the acts as "criminal," to The BBC. (The blurry footage can be found on YouTube, but viewers should be advised it's graphic.)
All of these gruesome allegations come at time of increased fears that Al Qaeda is playing a greater role in fighting the Assad regime. Obviously, it's far from clear which side or faction will come out on top in the fighting. At the same time, as The Associated Press' Paul Schemm reports, Assad rallied his forces Wednesday to step up fighting against rebels. According to the U.N., the Assad regime is utilizing more if its air power. "Sausan Ghosheh, the spokeswoman for the U.N. mission in Syria, said that international observers had witnessed warplanes firing in Syria's largest city, where intense fighting has been raging for 12 days," reports the news agency. "She said the situation in Aleppo was dire, with ''heavy use of heavy weapons' including tanks, which the rebels now possess as well."