russian mercs
Russia Insider calls for an investigation and if all checks out for the perpetrators to be dealt with severely

A gruesome video of what appears to be Russian mercenaries torturing an Arab man in Syria to death with a sledge hammer has appeared on the internet.

The torturers are Russian-speaking but as South Front points out they're not wearing official uniforms of the Russian military and carry antiquated weapons that are not longer in use by the Russian military. They are also very ragged. If they are Russian, they are mercenaries.

One of them is carrying a patch spelling out in Russian "I'm just gonna hurt you really, really badly", taken from the dystopian Hollywood film The Suicide Squad.

In the video one of the torturers can be heard saying in Russian "Let's start, fucking ISIS." which established they at the very least believe the man to be an ISIS fighter.

The man in turn repeatedly speaks the phrase "I bear witness that there is no god but God" and pleads for mercy in Arabic establishing he is at the very least Arab if not Syrian.

The torture shown is real. Some of the hammer blows miss—they can be heard connecting with the hard concrete surface. Other strikes, however, definitely connect with the tortured man, for example a gruesome hit on the man's hand at 0:36 into the video.

russian merc joker patch

A close up of the patch citing Joker
Also a severed human head is lying on the ground nearby indicating the torture is part of a larger macabre atrocity.

ISIS does not lack for Russian speakers so we could conceivably be looking at a "false flag" atrocity with ISIS fighters impersonating Russians.

However, on the face of it this definitely looks like anti-ISIS Russian mercenaries. (And it is not as if Russia does not have its own individuals fascinated with extreme violence, or as if all Russians were saints.)

Now, in some justice systems torture and death is an acceptable form of punishment, however:
  1. At least from the video alone it is not possible to say that the torturers believe the tortured man to be guilty of anything more than simply fighting for ISIS
  2. You would hope justice in Syria would be left to courts, or at least Syrians, rather than foreign soldiers of fortune
Syrian and Russian military authorities should definitely launch an investigation into the incident depicted. And if reality turns out to be what it appears to be from the video—that these are sadistic Russian mercenaries executing a man who is no more than a captured ISIS fighter—we think we can all agree that they should be dealt with swiftly and severely.

That may not be enough, however. An investigation should also look into who hired and brought this group of men (psychopaths?) to Syria and if they bear any responsibility for this atrocity taking place.*

*And it could be either a government agency or a private entity, seeing at least one Syrian high-profile unit, the Desert Hawks, is actually equipped and salaried, not by the government, but a Syrian oil tycoon. (And bizarrely some Desert Hawks themselves have taken to lobbing off heads of dead ISIS fighters.)