Islamic State executed 700 people from Syrian tribe: monitoring group

BEIRUT/AMMAN Sat Aug 16, 2014 4:06pm EDT

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BEIRUT/AMMAN (Reuters) - The Islamic State militant group has executed 700 members of a tribe it has been battling in eastern Syria during the past two weeks, the majority of them civilians, a human rights monitoring group and activists said on Saturday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has tracked violence on all sides of the three-year-old conflict, said reliable sources reported beheadings were used to execute many of the al-Sheitaat tribe, which is from Deir al-Zor province.

The conflict between Islamic State and the al-Sheitaat tribe, who number about 70,000, flared after the militants took over two oil fields in July.

“Those who were executed are all al-Sheitaat,” Observatory director Rami Abdelrahman said by telephone from Britain. “Some were arrested, judged and killed.”

Reuters cannot independently verify reports from Syria due to security conditions and reporting restrictions.

Proclaiming a 'caliphate' straddling parts of Iraq and Syria, Islamic State has swept across northern Iraq in recent weeks, pushing back Kurdish regional forces and driving tens of thousands of Muslims, Christians and members of the Yazidi religious minority from their homes, prompting the first U.S. air strikes in Iraq since the withdrawal of American troops in 2011.

The insurgents are also tightening their grip in Syria, of which they now control roughly a third, mostly rural areas in the north and east.

An activist in Deir al-Zor who spoke on condition of anonymity told Reuters that 300 men were executed in one day in the town of Ghraneij, one of the three main towns of the al-Sheitaat tribal heartland, when Islamic State stormed the town earlier this week.

Another opposition activist from Deir al-Zor said residents of al-Sheitaat towns had been given three days to leave.

“Those who were executed during the storming of the al-Sheitaat area are around 300. The rest were killed in the course of the battles," he told Reuters on condition of anonymity to protect his identity.

Civilians fleeing al-Sheitaat towns had either taken sanctuary in other villages or travelled to Iraq, he said.

More than 170,000 people have been killed in Syria's civil war, which pits overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim rebels against President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Shi'ite-derived Alawite minority, backed by Shi'ite militias from Iraq and Lebanon.

The insurgency is split between competing factions in Syria, with Islamic State emerging as the most powerful.

Tribal powers in Syria and Iraq have had to make the choice between fighting Islamic State or pledging allegiance.

On Friday, a video posted on YouTube showed men who said they were from the al-Sheitaat towns of Kishkeih and Abu Hammam pledging full support for Islamic State.

“We say that what Islamic State stands for is justice,” a tribal member sitting in a room with dozens of other men said in a statement that was read out.

The head of the al-Sheitaat tribe, Sheikh Rafaa Aakla al-Raju, called in a video message for other tribes to join them in the fight against the militants.

“We appeal to the other tribes to stand by us because it will be their turn next ... If (Islamic State) are done with us the other tribes will be targeted after al-Sheitaat. They are the next target,” he said in the video, posted on YouTube.

Islamic State was condemned on Friday in a U.N. Security Council resolution for "gross, systematic and widespread abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law."

(Editing by Stephen Powell and Sonya Hepinstall)

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Comments (5)
jhlparis wrote:
I hope Penelope Cruz will opine on this. I know how strongly she feels about genocide. This is real genocide and she must see that. Those Yazidi people weren’t guilty of responding to rocket attacks, they were kille dsimply fo rnot being of therequired faith.

Penelope – we need your voice and your conviction.

Precisamos tu voz – que sea fuerte y clara para denunciar el pogrom se edifica sobre elpueblo Yazidi.

Aug 16, 2014 6:31pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
dualcitizen wrote:
Reuters won’t post this, so don’t know why I bother. “Islamic State was condemned on Friday in a U.N. Security Council resolution for “gross, systematic and widespread abuses of human rights and violations of international humanitarian law.” Guess that will really show them. Wake up people, they are going to take over the world while we sit around whining. Look at what’s going on in England. Many of you like to lambast Christians for our morals, wait until you are being beheaded for going against sharia law, then let us know about “tolerance”.

Aug 16, 2014 6:42pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
KNoose000 wrote:
Good, its evolution.
The simple fact they kill each other for no reason other than dogma is evolution in progress. Its a simple expression of a worthless part of humanity.

Aug 16, 2014 8:06pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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