Al Qaeda-linked militants fighting in Syria scrambled to head off an embarrassing decapitation gaffe this week, asking for "understanding and forgiveness" after mistakenly cutting off and displaying the head of an ally.

Through a spokesman, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, an al Qaeda-affiliated militant group in Syria, apologized for decapitating Mohammed Fares (pictured left), a commander with fellow rebel organization Ahrar al-Sham, the Telegraph reports:

An ISIS spokesman, Omar al-Qahtani, confirmed that Mr Fares had been injured and, thinking he had been captured by members of a Shia militia against which he was fighting, asked them to kill him in terms misunderstood by the ISIS members in fact taking him to hospital.

It is thought he was wounded in the battle for Base 80, a military zone being fought over near Aleppo.

In explaining the error Mr al-Qahtani made reference to a story in which Mohammed said Allah would forgive a man who killed a believer in error.

It is unclear how ISIS will address the organizational and institutional failures that led to the mistake, or if any employees will lose their jobs.