Syrian rebels kill teen for 'blasphemy'
PHOTOGRAPHS of the bloodied face of a 14-year-old boy executed in front of his parents by jihadist rebels in northern Syria have thrown into stark relief the sometimes-extreme justice meted out in rebel-held areas.
Fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, an Al-Qaeda front group, accused Mohammad Qattaa, who worked at a coffee kiosk, of blasphemy.
But a human-rights group said he had done nothing more than use a common Arabic phrase that makes reference to Prophet Muhammad's name.
"If Muhammad, peace be upon him, were to come to this earth right now, I would still not give a cup of coffee to anyone unless they pay for it," the teenager reportedly said to someone who approached him for a free cup of coffee.
Pictures of Qattaa's face, bloodied by the three shots that cut short his life on Sunday, spread like wildfire on social-media websites.
"If someone shot a dog in the street, people would act," cried the boy's grieving mother, Ms Umm Mohammed, in amateur video footage distributed by activists.
"Where are his rights? He was a child! How could they kill him?
"We are with neither side (in Syria's raging conflict). We just look after ourselves... Why did you kill my son? Is he a terrorist?"
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the militants responsible for the boy's execution were foreign volunteers of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
"A member of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria spoken to by an Observatory activist said the boy deserved to die," said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
Large swathes of northern Syria have fallen into the hands of various rebel groups, some of them Islamic, which have set up their own justice systems in areas they control.
Qattaa's killing was the latest in a series of abuses by rebel fighters that have discomfited the mainstream opposition and its Western backers.