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According to activists and observers who’ve examined an extraordinary video posted to the Internet, that’s exactly what Maher Assad, brother of Syrian President Bashar Assad, did on Friday, gleefully shooting at unarmed protesters as they chanted for the downfall of his regime in the Barzeh suburb of Damascus.

Syrian authorities in Damascus have barred foreign journalists from Syria.

The video footage could not be verified.

It’s also not clear whether he’s firing live ammunition or tear gas canisters straight into a crowd of what appear to be peaceful protesters calling out, “The people want the overthrow of the regime.”

But the man shooting at the protesters in the video does bear a a certain resemblance to Bashar’s brother.

The gruff military commander oversees the Syrian army’s 4th Armored Division, which has been the premier tool used by the regime in its attempt to crush a nonviolent, pro-democracy movement.

And he does appear to be some kind of VIP.

The man in the leather jacket is surrounded not only by police officers in riot gear, and possibly intelligence officers, but bands of plainclothes pro-government strongmen, called shabiha by the protesters, who are trying to shield his face, presumably from the scrutiny of cellphone cameras.

Apparently, they didn’t consider that someone from behind could be filming the scene.

LAT

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