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Syria army commander 'poses next to dead bodies'

Prominent commander Issam Zahreddine reportedly photographed with two hanged bodies behind him, sparking anger online.

Syrian social media users have circulated photos online of a well-known government army commander posing next to dead bodies in the eastern Syria's Deir Az Zor province.

Tasked with leading the Syrian government's military operations in Deir Az Zor, Issam Zahreddine was reportedly photographed with two hanged bodies behind, both of which ostensibly bear the marks of torture.

The identity of the two killed people remains unknown, sources said. They both appeared to have been cut into several pieces before being hanged.

Zahreddin's son and other soldiers reportedly appear in similar pictures that have circulated on social media in recent days.

Diala Chehade, an international criminal law expert, said that she doubts international legal action will be taken against the commander due to Russia's deep involvement in the Syrian conflict.

"The Russian participation... in the armed conflict in Syria will make it very difficult for a veto not to object to a referral to the ICC unless a legitimate government of Syria will accept the jurisdiction of the ICC in the future," she said from Beirut.

The Syrian conflict started in March 2011 as a largely unarmed uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, but it quickly evolved into a full-on civil war between government forces and rebel groups.

United Nations Special Envoy to Syria Staffan de Mistura recently estimated that 400,000 people have been killed throughout the five years of violence.

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