[On late May 26, Syrian troops opened fire toward hundreds of protesters
in the southern city of Dera, Middle East Newsline reported. Witnesses said the protesters defied the
presence of main battle tanks and thousands of army and police.]
Amnesty said the policy appeared to have been introduced as early as
March during the first days of the protests against the Assad regime.
The footage showed security forces shooting toward the heads of civilians in
Dera in late March and early April.
Human rights groups have reported more than 1,100 dead in the Assad
crackdown, most of them in Dera and Homs. They said Assad's military and
security forces have routinely employed everything from automatic fire to
tank shells to stop the protests.
"Images of unarmed civilians shot in the head help explain why there
have been so many fatalities," Amnesty deputy director Philip Luther said on
May 26. "Together with footage of soldiers celebrating deaths, they document
what appears to be a shoot-to-kill policy."
The video included a night raid by security forces of a mosque in Dera.
The footage showed plainclothes officers filming bodies on the floor of the
mosque and shouting "Take pictures. We killed them. They are traitors."
Other scenes showed uniformed officers bludgeoning injured men sprawled
on the road. Syrian protesters with head injuries were also seen in the
footage. Amnesty said it has obtained the names of 720 people killed by the
"Faced with this and other compelling evidence of rampant abuses,
President Bashar Assad must stop the Syrian security forces shooting unarmed
protesters and ensure that perpetrators are held to account for their
treatment of fellow Syrians," Amnesty said.