The New York Times’s redoubtable war correspondent C.J. Chivers filed yet another riveting story on Friday’s front page.
Matthew Schrier was helpless. An American photographer held in a rebel-controlled prison in the Syrian city of Aleppo, he and a fellow prisoner had been caught trying to gouge a hole in their cell’s wooden door. The captors took his cellmate, he said, beat him, and brought him back with blood-streaked ankles and feet.
Now was Mr. Schrier’s turn.
Wearing masks, his jailers led him out, sat him down and forced a car tire over his knees. They slid a wooden rod behind his legs, locking the tire in place. Then they rolled him over. Mr. Schrier was face down on a basement floor, he said, legs immobilized, bare feet facing up.
“Give him 115,” one of his captors said in English, as they began whipping his feet with a metal cable.
When the torture ended Mr. Schrier could not walk.
Chivers provides an essential antidote to the Syrian Rebelpalooza that the left has promulgated since the anti-Assad uprising commenced. While not a full-throated condemnation of the Syrian opposition, his account of Matthew Schrier’s alleged torture serves as a sobering backdrop to the debate over U.S. intervention in the Syrian civil war.
Now in the United States, Mr. Schrier has returned with a firsthand account of the descent by elements of the anti-Assad forces into sanctimonious hatred and crime. His experience reflects the sharply deteriorated climate for foreigners and moderate Syrians in areas subject to the whims of armed religious groups whose members roam roads, staff checkpoints and occupy a constellation of guerrilla bases.
Mr. Schrier’s detention is one of more than 15 cases of Westerners, mostly journalists, being abducted or disappearing in Syria this year.
Schrier’s case, at least, is absolutely compelling in the capable hands of Chivers.