BEIRUT, Aug 28, (Agencies): Islamic State fighters executed scores of Syrian soldiers captures when the militants seized an airbase in the province of Raqqa at the weekend, according to a video posted on You Tube on Thursday. The video, confirmed as genuine by an Islamic State fighter, showed the bodies of dozens of men lying face down wearing nothing but their underwear. They were stretched out in a line that appeared to be dozens of metres long. A separate pile of bodies was shown nearby. Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.
The caption beneath it said the dead numbered 250. An Islamic State fighter in Raqqa told Reuters via the Internet: “Yes, we have executed them all.” The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors violence in the war, put the death toll at more than 120. Islamic State, a radical offshoot of al Qaeda, stormed Tabqa airbase on Sunday after days of clashes with the army and said it had captured and killed soldiers and officers in one of the bloodiest confrontations yet between the two sides.
The capture of Tabqa, the Syrian army’s last foothold in that area, and apparent parading and killing of large numbers of its soldiers shows how Islamic State has cemented its grip on the north of the country. The video begins by showing the captives apparently being marched in the desert with their hands behind their heads and watched by armed men. An Islamic State fighter repeatedly shouts out “Islamic State”, to which the men reply “It shall remain”. News of the killings comes as US President Barack Obama is reportedly weighing air strikes on IS positions in Syria and coming closer to greenlighting a mission to aid Shiite Turkmen trapped in an Iraqi town by the jihadists.
Syrian regime air strikes killed six IS leaders on Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, but Washington has so far baulked at cooperating with Damascus against the jihadists. French President Francois Hollande added his voice to the disquiet that has been growing since the jihadists marauded through Iraq and beheaded US journalist James Foley. The latest killings took place in the Syrian province of Raqa, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that the victims were soldiers fleeing towards government-held territory to the west after the jihadists overran their base at Tabqa.