Russia's infamous Wagner mercenaries linked to gruesome video of Syrian prisoner being brutally tortured and beheaded
Russian media outlets believe they have successfully identified one of the soldiers involved in the gruesome torture and murder of Mohammed Taha Ismail al-Abdullah, a Syrian national, which was captured on film.
Through the use of facial recognition technology, the attacker has been identified as Stanislav D, a private soldier employed by Russian private military firm Wagner Group and deployed in Syria.
The Daily Mail reported that the video, believed to have been filmed in an oil field west of Palmyra, Syria, in 2017, shows four Russian-speaking soldiers assaulting a Syrian national who allegedly deserted from a unit loyal to the nation's president.
A small snippet of the video first surfaced right after the time of the incident. However, the complete version that shows the full extent of the soldiers' brutality was only discovered last week.
The clip shows a man on the ground surrounded by four men dressed in camouflage. The group then breaks the victim's legs using a sledgehammer before proceeding to crush his chest, behead him, and chop off his lower arms before hanging his corpse by his legs. They are then seen setting the body on fire.
According to the Novaya Gazeta, the identified attacker is believed to have been a police officer from the Stavropol region in southern Russia before joining Wagner in 2016. The soldier's full last name has not been revealed by the newspaper in order to protect his family from possible reprisals.
During a daily briefing on November 22, the Kremlin's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said: "We have no information and no relationship to these people." He also said that there would be "no answer" when asked if the president felt that a government probe was called for in this situation.
Wagner is a Russian private military company that was founded by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a close friend of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Wagner's mercenary forces have fought in battlefields around the world including Ukraine and the Central African Republic. In Syria, the Wagner Group deployed forces to aid the Syrian government. They are also said to be active in Libya, Sudan, and Mozambique.