The shaky footage, at once damningly explicit and maddeningly unverifiable, is symbolic of how the outside world perceives this bloody but often opaque conflict.
In case you're not able to endure all 16 bloody minutes of the video, uploaded this morning to YouTube, here is what it shows: a group of fatigue-clad, gun-carrying men mill around in front of some houses, smiling, pumping their fists in the air, and kicking at the dozens of bloody corpses that blanket the ground. Many of the dead have their hands tied, and appear to have been shoot in the face. The camera moves into one of the houses, which is so filled with more bodies -- some of whom appear to be women, some with their pants pulled down -- that they are piled two or three high. Some look like children, though the camera moves so fast and the quality is so poor that it's difficult to tell. The men laugh and shout at the corpses as they drag them inside. "Get him in, get him in. Yalla, leave him here to be shot and it's done," one of them says, according to the Guardian's translation. Later, the camera goes dark for a minute, and a series of gunshots are audible. When the video returns, we're back outside, but the camera shakes so much it's hard to follow. Dozens of soldiers are standing around, as if waiting for something. We move over to a van, where a young man dressed in civilian clothes is sitting, hunched over as if he is bound or in pain though it's hard to tell. The cameraman starts shouting at the young man, and you can hear his fist making contact. Then more milling. Someone says, "The tanks just arrived." After a few more minutes of bored-looking soldiers standing around, the camera turns to the house where the bodies had been stacked. There are two explosions and the house begins to smoke, then burn. The men watch for a bit and start walking away.
That is all we can say for sure about the events portrayed in the video. Its YouTube description and social media reports say that it was filmed in March in Hammameh, a town in Idlib province, but from outside Syria it's difficult or impossible to verify any of this. Syria-watchers on Twitter say the men, heavily armed and clad in military gear but apparently lacking official insignia, might be members of the dreaded pro-Assad shabiha militias. Whoever they are, the snippets of dialogue suggest they have tanks on their side.