Sunni militant group boasts of executing dozens of Shia soldiers in Iraq
The Sunni extremist group that had taken control of several key cities and towns last week released a series of photos purportedly showing their fighters massacring dozens of captured Iraqi soldiers, the BBC News reported on its website Sunday.
The photos show large groups of mostly Shia soldiers in plain clothes being led away by armed masked men and then lying in trenches before and after they were executed, the report said.
An Iraqi army source told the BBC the photos are authentic, and took place in the country’s restive Salahuddin province, but the authenticity of the photos could not be independently verified.
|If the photos are real, it would be the biggest single atrocity since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003|
If they are real, it would be the biggest single atrocity since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
The Sunni militant group of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) had earlier last week captured key Iraqi cities of Mosul and Tikrit, and a number of small towns.
The Iraqi government army launched a counter offensive and has taken back some of the towns previously under militant control, the BBC report said.
Washington remains concerned about the crisis, and US President Barack Obama said last week that “all options are on the table,” but was quick to note that US troops will not be re-deployed in the war torn country.
But he has offered to back up the Iraqi government forces with an aerial and naval campaign, and has sent the aircraft carrier the USS George HW Bush to the Gulf.
The advance of the Sunni militants has ironically brought long-time enemies the US and Iran closer to being on speaking terms with one another, after Iran’s Shia government offered to support Iraq in its attempt to beat back the rebel group.
US newspaper The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday that the US is preparing to open talks with Iran over the situation in Iraq, the BBC report said.
The massacre pictures, apparently posted by ISIS, are said to show what happened to soldiers after the group took over an army base in Tikrit.
What appear to be ISIS fighters are seen firing on their captives in some images, according to the report.
By Mark Kennedy