WARNING: Some of the images contained in this story are graphic in nature and may be disturbing to some viewers
(TIME) All wars are vicious, but the civil war in Syria seems every day to set new standards for brutality. As the fighting rages in its third year, increasing numbers of atrocities are committed by soldiers and fighters from forces loyal to the regime of President Bashar Assad, as well as armed rebels and Islamic militants from the numerous, loosely aligned groups opposing Assad. The violence is frequently sectarian in nature, with fighters claiming they act in defense of their faith, be it Sunni, Alawite, Shiite or any of the other sects that contribute to Syria’s religious landscape.
The perpetrators of atrocities themselves often use digital cameras or smartphones to photograph or film their acts of torture and murder, uploading the images to the Internet. These images and videos are used for propaganda, and their authenticity is often impossible to verify. It is very rare that a group of fighters from either side gives a professional photojournalist from a country outside Syria full and unfettered access to chronicle an atrocity as it unfolds. The images above are products of that access.
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