BEIRUT/AMMAN: 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 yesterday.
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.”
An activist in Deir Al Zor said 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.
Meanwhile, Syrian rebels yesterday were defending Marea, one of their main strongholds in the north, against a rapid advance by Islamic State jihadists, a monitoring group and an activist said.
IS fighters were nearing the towns of Marea and Aazaz, both bastions of rebel groups battling Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s regime, after seizing a number of villages in Aleppo province bordering Turkey in just three days.
If the jihadists manage to take the strategic towns, this could deal a severe blow to rebel groups battling both regime forces and the IS. “There is fierce fighting between rebels and the IS around Marea,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.