FSA co-founder’s family denies reports that 'Caesar' martyr's photo is of him

The family of Lieutenant-Colonel Hussein Al-Harmoush has denied reports that a photograph of a martyr bearing a strong resemblance to the Free Syrian Army co-founder is of their missing relative after the picture, found among the ‘Caesar’ photos which show detainees tortured to death in Assad regime prisons, was widely circulated online.

Prominent Syrian journalist Hadi Abdullah reported on Monday that numerous social media sites had published the photo of the martyr who died under torture, with many claiming that it showed Al-Harmoush.

The photo was amongst the thousands of graphic photographs smuggled out of the country by the dissident regime photographer known by the code-name ‘Caesar’ which show the bodies of some of those tortured to death in Assad’s prisons.

Activists have circulated the photograph of one of the martyrs who bears a striking resemblance to Harmoush, with opinions differing as to whether or not the photo shows him.

Al-Harmoush's sister denied that the leaked image shows her brother, stressing that the photo is, instead, of another individual who strongly resembles him.

Caesar leaked about 50,000 photos showing approximately 16,000 dead bodies, who died as a result of torture in the Assad regime’s security branches.

It is worth noting that Harmoush was the first officer to defect from the Assad regime army in 2011, establishing the ‘ Free Officers Brigade’ following his defection. This brigade subsequently formed the nucleus of the Free Syrian Army, whose initial aim was simply to protect the peaceful demonstrators from the brutal attacks of the regime forces.

The regime announced its arrest of Harmush on August 15, 2011, in a kidnapping operation that took place inside Turkish territory. Later the same year, Lieutenant-Colonel Harmoush appeared on a Syrian state television channel, making a statement clearly coerced under torture in which he said that he had been deceived and was deceiving others.
He has not been seen since then, with many fearing that he was subsequently executed or tortured to death by the regime.

- Hadi Abdullah