In May of 2013, disturbing video was posted online appearing to show a man identified as Khaled al-Hamad, also known as Abu Sakkar, cutting out the heart of a dead Syrian soldier and biting into it.
"I swear to God we will eat your hearts out, you soldiers of Bashar. You dogs. God is greater!" he said, before biting the organ. "Heroes of Baba Amr…we will take out their hearts to eat them."
A commander with the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, Sakkar was gunned down in a skirmish with rival extremists, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
SOHR described Sakkar’s death as a “settling of accounts” between al-Nusra and other Takfiri extremists operating in the area.
Syria has been engulfed in a civil war since 2011, with an estimated 470,000 people killed. While a ceasefire is in effect and appears to be holding for the most part, the Russian center for Syrian reconciliation at Hmeymim airbase reports that al-Nusra has expanded its influence.
"Reports on the increase of al-Nusra Front groups active in the city of Aleppo have been received via the hotline of the reconciliation center," the center said in a statement.
"According to the received information, a detachment of over 90 people has arrived from the Bshantara settlement to the Ashraf quarter. The situation demonstrates the terrorists might be preparing a full-scale attack."
A fresh round of peace talks will begin on Monday.
"[Parliamentary] elections will be held in Syria on April 13, and several members of the Syrian delegation will take part in them, so they will be coming [to Geneva] on April 14, but the [proximity] talks will begin on April 11," said Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov.