Tuesday 27 September 2016

Women and children are among 400 executed by Isis in Palmyra

Peter Graff

Published 25/05/2015 | 02:30

This picture released on Thursday, May 21, 2015 by the website of Islamic State militants, shows the Tadmur prison in the Syrian town of Palmyra that was captured by the Islamic State militants after a battle with the Syrian government forces, Syria. (The website of Islamic State militants via AP)
This picture released on Thursday, May 21, 2015 by the website of Islamic State militants, shows the Tadmur prison in the Syrian town of Palmyra that was captured by the Islamic State militants after a battle with the Syrian government forces, Syria. (The website of Islamic State militants via AP)
In this picture released on Friday, May 22, 2015 by the website of Islamic State militants, shows the Islamic State militants flag, top center, raised on the to top of Palmyra castle, in the Syrian town of Palmyra, Syria. (The website of Islamic State militants via AP)
This picture released on Sunday, May 24, 2015, by a militant website which had been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting shows Syrian government soldiers who were captured by Islamic state militants in Palmyra area in Syria. (Militant website via AP)
This picture released on Sunday, May 24, 2015, by a militant website which had been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting shows Syrian government soldiers who were captured by Islamic state militants in Palmyra area in Syria. (Militant website via AP)
This picture released on Sunday, May 24, 2015, by a militant website which had been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting shows Syrian government soldiers who were captured by Islamic state militants in Palmyra area in Syria. (Militant website via AP)
This photo released on Sunday, May 17, 2015, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the general view of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, Syria. A Syrian official said on Sunday that the situation is "fully under control" in Palmyra despite breaches by Islamic State militants who pushed into the historic town a day earlier. (SANA via AP)
This picture released on Thursday, May 21, 2015 by the website of Islamic State militants, shows the Palmyra castle is seen from the Syrian town of Palmyra that was captured by the Islamic State militants after a battle with the Syrian government forces, Syria. (The website of Islamic State militants via AP)
This picture released on Thursday, May 21, 2015 by the website of Islamic State militants, shows a bunker with a heavy machine gun mounted on its top at Palmyra air base that was captured by the Islamic State militants after a battle with the Syrian government forces in Palmyra, Syria. (The website of Islamic State militants via AP)
In this picture released on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 by the website of Islamic State militants, an Islamic State fighter fires his weapon during a battle against Syrian government forces on a road between Homs and Palmyra, Syria. (The website of Islamic State militants via AP)
FILE - This file photo released on Sunday, May 17, 2015, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the general view of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, Syria. (SANA via AP, File)
FILE - This FILE photo released on Sunday, May 17, 2015, by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows the general view of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, Syria. When Islamic State fighters routed Syrian government forces and took control of the ruins of Palmyra Thursday, May 21, 2015 (SANA via AP, File)
This picture released on Wednesday, May 20, 2015 on the website of Islamic State militants, shows black columns of smoke rising through the air during a battle between Islamic State militants and the Syrian government forces on a road between Homs and Palmyra, Syria. (The website of Islamic State militants via AP)

Isil fighters have executed at least 400 people, including many women and children, in Palmyra since capturing the ancient Syrian city, Syrian state media has claimed.

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It was not immediately possible to verify the account, but it was consistent with reports by activists that the Islamist fighters had carried out executions since capturing the city from government troops.

The Isil militants seized the city of 50,000 people, site of some of the world's most extensive ancient Roman ruins, on Wednesday, days after also capturing the city of Ramadi in neighbouring Iraq.

The two near-simultaneous victories were Isil's biggest successes since a US-led coalition began an air war against the fighters last year.

The Sunni Muslim militants have proclaimed a caliphate to rule over all Muslims from territory they hold in both Syria and Iraq. They have a history of carrying out mass killings in towns and cities they capture, and of destroying ancient monuments which they consider evidence of paganism.

"The terrorists have killed more than 400 people.. and mutilated their bodies, under the pretext that they cooperated with the government and did not follow orders," Syria's state news agency said.

Tourists walk in the historical city of Palmyra, September 30, 2010. Islamic State fighters in Syria have entered the ancient ruins of Palmyra after taking complete control of the central city, but there are no reports so far of any destruction of antiquities, a group monitoring the war said on May 21, 2015. Picture taken September 30, 2010. REUTERS/Nour Fourat
Tourists walk in the historical city of Palmyra, September 30, 2010. Islamic State fighters in Syria have entered the ancient ruins of Palmyra after taking complete control of the central city, but there are no reports so far of any destruction of antiquities, a group monitoring the war said on May 21, 2015. Picture taken September 30, 2010. REUTERS/Nour Fourat
Tourists ride camels in the historical city of Palmyra, September 30, 2010. Islamic State fighters in Syria have entered the ancient ruins of Palmyra after taking complete control of the central city, but there are no reports so far of any destruction of antiquities, a group monitoring the war said on May 21, 2015. Picture taken September 30, 2010. REUTERS/Nour Fourat
Tourists walk in the historical city of Palmyra, April 14, 2007. Islamic State fighters in Syria have entered the ancient ruins of Palmyra after taking complete control of the central city, but there are no reports so far of any destruction of antiquities, a group monitoring the war said on May 21, 2015. Picture taken April 14, 2007. REUTERS/Nour Fourat
A general view shows the historical city of Palmyra, October 28, 2007. Islamic State fighters in Syria have entered the ancient ruins of Palmyra after taking complete control of the central city, but there are no reports so far of any destruction of antiquities, a group monitoring the war said on May 21, 2015. Picture taken October 28, 2007. REUTERS/Nour Fourat
The sun sets in the historical city of Palmyra, September 30, 2010. Islamic State fighters in Syria have entered the ancient ruins of Palmyra after taking complete control of the central city, but there are no reports so far of any destruction of antiquities, a group monitoring the war said on May 21, 2015. REUTERS/Nour Fourat
Fakhreddin's Castle (top), is pictured in the historical city of Palmyra, October 28, 2007. Islamic State fighters in Syria have entered the ancient ruins of Palmyra after taking complete control of the central city, but there are no reports so far of any destruction of antiquities, a group monitoring the war said on May 21, 2015.
Fakhreddin's Castle (top), is pictured in the historical city of Palmyra, September 29, 2005. Islamic State fighters in Syria have entered the ancient ruins of Palmyra after taking complete control of the central city, but there are no reports so far of any destruction of antiquities, a group monitoring the war said on May 21, 2015. REUTERS/Nour Fourat
A man rides a motorcycle with a child in the historical city of Palmyra, September 30, 2010. Islamic State fighters in Syria have entered the ancient ruins of Palmyra after taking complete control of the central city, but there are no reports so far of any destruction of antiquities, a group monitoring the war said on May 21, 2015. Picture taken September 30, 2010. REUTERS/Nour Fourat
Tourists rest on ruins in the historical city of Palmyra, May 13, 2010. Islamic State fighters in Syria have entered the ancient ruins of Palmyra after taking complete control of the central city, but there are no reports so far of any destruction of antiquities, a group monitoring the war said on May 21, 2015. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir
Camels are seen in front of the Temple of Bel at the historical city of Palmyra October 22, 2010. Islamic State seized full control of the historic city of Palmyra in central Syria on May 21, 2015, just days after it captured a provincial capital in neighbouring Iraq, suggesting momentum is building for the ultra-hardline group. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
The Temple of Bel is illuminated in the historical city of Palmyra October 22, 2010. Islamic State fighters in Syria have entered the ancient ruins of Palmyra after taking complete control of the central city, but there are no reports so far of any destruction of antiquities, a group monitoring the war said on May 21, 2015. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
A group of tourists dance in front of the Temple of Bel at the historical city of Palmyra October 22, 2010. Islamic State fighters in Syria have entered the ancient ruins of Palmyra after taking complete control of the central city, but there are no reports so far of any destruction of antiquities, a group monitoring the war said on May 21, 2015. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
Tourists walk in the Temple of Bel at the historical city of Palmyra October 22, 2010. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

It added that dozens of those killed were state employees, including the head of the nursing department at the hospital and all her family members.

Isil supporters have posted videos on the internet they say show fighters going room to room in government buildings searching for government troops and pulling down pictures of President Bashar al-Assad and his father.

Activists have said on social media that hundreds of bodies, believed to be government loyalists, were lying in the streets.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors violence in the country with a network of sources on the ground, says that some people were beheaded in the town since it fell but has not given an estimate for the toll among civilians.

It says at least 300 soldiers were killed in the days of fighting before the city was captured.

"A bigger number of troops have disappeared and it is not clear where they are," Rami Abdulrahman from the Observatory said.

US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter accused Iraq's army of abandoning Ramadi to a much smaller enemy force.

"The Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight," he said yesterday. "They vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they withdrew from the site."

Iraq's government and its allies launched a counter-offensive on Saturday, a week after losing Ramadi.

A police major and a pro-government Sunni tribal fighter in the area said they had retaken the town of Husaiba al-Sharqiya, about 10km east of Ramadi.

Irish Independent

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