ISIS Claims Massacre of 1,700 Iraqi Soldiers

ISIS massacre claim: Photos appear to show horrifying final moments of Iraqi servicemen allegedly executed by militants in Tikrit

16/06/14 Updated 6 hours 17 minutes ago

Extremist militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claims to have massacred 1,700 Iraqi servicemen in a mass execution in the north of Iraq.

The Sunni extremists posted photos of the alleged massacre to social media and jihadist websites on Sunday.

The photos have yet to be verified, but, if confirmed, the massacre would be the single largest atrocity in the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The US has condemned the massacre claim as “horrifying”, saying the pictures are “a true depiction of the bloodlust that these terrorists represent”.

Warning: This story contains graphic images.

The ISIS offensive began last Monday, when militants seized the northern city of Mosul. More than 500,000 people were displaced on the first day of fighting.

On Wednesday the insurgents, who were advancing towards Baghdad, captured Tikrit, Saddam Hussein’s home town.

Reports suggest the men who were allegedly executed – said to be Iraqi soldiers in civilian clothing – had surrendered from a military base without resistance.

The US says it believes they were Iraqi air force recruits.

One photo shows an ISIS militant with his hand outstretched, showing off dozens of captives lying on their stomachs with hands held behind their backs.

The men are then shown being herded, one by one, down a staircase by militants in balaclavas holding machine guns. The men are hunched and visibly terrified.

Other photos show the men in the back of pick-up trucks with their heads bent.

In one photo, militants sit in the back of a pick-up truck with their firearms raised as they ferry the men to an unknown site.

The men, barefoot, are then led to long trenches where they are ordered to lie down with their hands behind their heads.

One man in yellow, hands clasped together, appears to be pleading for his life. A militant dressed in black stands over him, apparently ordering him to the ground where his fellow captives lie.

Behind them, men walk towards the end of the row with their hands over their heads.

“This is the fate of the Shiites which Nouri brought to fight the Sunnis,” a caption to one of the pictures reads, referring to Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The photos show at least three apparent execution sites. In one, the men – more than 30 – are laid out in single file.

Standing over them are dozens of militants aiming firearms of various designs.

The man in yellow appears to be trying to stand; beyond him his captor now aims a gun at the prone men, ready to fire.

At another location the men are laid out facing opposite directions in a shallow grave.

A militant stands at the end of the grave, waving a black ISIS flag beyond the swirling dust.

ISIS Claims Massacre of 1,700 Iraqi Soldiers

Mideast Iraq
This image posted on a militant website on Saturday, June 14, 2014, appears to show militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) leading away captured Iraqi soldiers dressed in plain clothes after taking over a base in Tikrit, Iraq. AP

New claims circulated on the radical militant group’s Twitter and social media accounts purport to detail mass graves and brutal killings, in a gruesome propaganda campaign

In a series of tweets and shocking photos posted to their social media sites, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is boasting to have slaughtered 1,700 Iraqi soldiers in the past week as the militant Islamist group continued its blitzkrieg towards Baghdad.

The alleged massacre, as well as the body count, has not yet been verified, but if proved true it would be the single largest act of mass killing in a war that now spans Syria and Iraq. Even if exaggerated, the claims are potent propaganda designed to terrify their opponents and pre-empt resistance as the al-Qaeda inspired group consolidates control in Iraq’s Sunni areas.

It also may be designed to inflame sectarian tensions, all but demanding a response from the country’s Shiite militias in an effort to launch a sectarian war that could end up redrawing the map of the Middle East.

The photos, some 60 in all, start with rather benign images of loot — ammunition, Humvees, trucks and weapons — captured from Iraqi army bases that were abandoned by fleeing soldiers. It appears that they were taken over the past week in Salahuddin Province. Tikrit, the principal city (and former President Saddam Hussein’s hometown) was captured by ISIS on June 12.

The photos go on to show a grim slide show of men described in taunting captions as soldiers caught “trying to flee the battles in civilian clothing.” Bloodied corpses stain the ground in at least five different locations, and several of the photos document firing squads garlanded with the black ISIS flag preparing to kill scores of handcuffed men packed in shallow graves.

“Liquidation of the herds of the Safavid arm,” states one caption, a reference to an Iranian dynasty and, by extension, Shiites. “They are lions with the weak, but in wars they are ostriches,” says another caption laid over a group of terrified, handcuffed men forced to stand with their heads bent towards their knees. It is a message designed to capitalize on Sunni resentment over the hard-handed tactics of the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad. The carnage goes on for 25 frames; in some it looks as if the militants are killing their victims with brand new weapons, possibly the soldiers’ own guns — if they are indeed soldiers.

ISIS’s media wing has long used propaganda to intimidate its opponents and draw recruits, both in Syria and Iraq. The organization, which started as al Qaeda in Iraq in 2003, expanded into Syria as the conflict took shape there, and eventually changed its name to better reflect its overarching goal: an Islamic caliphate spanning the region and ruled by a radical interpretation of Islamic law. Al-Qaeda has since repudiated the group for its extreme tactics.

Just a few weeks prior to ISIS’s march on the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, which fell on June 10th, the group’s media wing released a similarly gruesome video. Titled The Sound of Swords Clashing, the hour-long video depicts a series of vicious executions of Iraqi soldiers and officers. It went viral in Iraq, according to a new report by the Combatting Terrorism Center at WestPoint, and may have been designed to threaten members of the Iraqi armed forces before the militant advance into northern Iraq.

If 1,700 soldiers or Iraqis were indeed killed, the released photos show only a fraction of the dead, raising some skepticism among human rights investigators. “We’re trying to verify the pics, and I am not convinced they are authentic,” Erin Evers, the Human Rights Watch researcher in Iraq, told the New York Times. “As far as ISIS claiming it has killed 1,700 people and publishing horrific photos to support that claim, it is unfortunately in keeping with their pattern of commission of atrocities, and obviously intended to further fuel sectarian war.” Nor have Iraqi officials confirmed that a massacre took place.

A true documentation of a horrific war crime, or a slickly produced piece of propaganda that amplified scores of dead into thousands; either way the photos will have their intended effect: terror and a call to arms. ISIS alone will never be able to capture all of Iraq, but if the country descends once again into sectarian war, its ultimate goal will be that much closer. “Sectarian civil war is the enabler,” says Jessica Lewis, an ISIS expert at the Institute for the Study of War. “They want to set conditions in Iraq that look like Syria so they can set up an Islamic state.”

Post your thoughts here, then PRESS POST COMMENT button folks, cheers

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,121 other followers

%d bloggers like this: