Demonstration outside the offices of the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) demanding they stop fighting with rebels on January 6, 2014 in Aleppo
DAMASCUS: Syrian rebels overran the Aleppo headquarters of the jihadist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant yesterday, as claims emerged that ISIL had massacred prisoners there in cold blood.
They were reportedly also pressing ISIL in Raqa, the only provincial capital lost by the regime of President Bashar Al Assad and a stronghold of the group.
The operation in Aleppo came a day after ISIL’S spokesman threatened to “crush” opposition fighters who have attacked the group in several provinces.
“There are hardly any ISIL members left in the city of Aleppo,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Elsewhere, a diplomat announced two Swedish reporters missing in Syria since November had been freed.
And the fractious Syrian opposition National Coalition said it was postponing until January 17 a final decision on whether to attend peace talks in Switzerland.
On the ground, ISIL battled moderate and Islamist rebels in clashes that first erupted on Friday and have killed at least 385 people, including 56 civilians.
ISIL’s headquarters in a hospital in Aleppo’s Qadi Askar neighbourhood was overrun by opposition fighters, who reportedly freed dozens of prisoners.
But a video posted online yesterday claimed ISIL had previously executed at least nine prisoners after handcuffing, blindfolding and shooting them in the head.
The Coalition denounced “these acts, which perpetuate the regime’s methods to kill free voice, suppress liberty and violate... fundamental human rights.”
Late on Tuesday, ISIL spokesman Abu Mohammed Al Adnani issued a defiant message, urging fighters to “crush them (the rebels) totally and kill the conspiracy at birth”.
“None of you will remain, and we will make of you an example to all those who think of following the same path,” he added.
See also page 7