Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Islamic State Fighters Execute 220 Iraqi Men Victims Were from Tribe That Opposed Jihadis

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Islamic State Fighters Execute 220 Iraqi Men Victims Were from Tribe That Opposed Jihadis

Article excerpt

BAGHDAD - Islamic State militants executed at least 220 Iraqis in retaliation against a tribe's opposition to their takeover of territory west of Baghdad, security sources and witnesses said.

Two mass graves were discovered Thursday containing some of the 300 members of the Sunni Muslim Albu Nimr tribe that Islamic State had seized this week. The captives, men aged between 18 and 55, had been shot at close range, witnesses said.

The bodies of more than 70 Albu Nimr men were dumped near the town of Hit in the Sunni heartland Anbar province, according to witnesses, who said most of the victims were members of the police or an anti-Islamic State militia called Sahwa, or Awakening.

"Early this morning, we found those corpses, and we were told by some Islamic State militants that 'those people are from Sahwa, who fought your brothers, the Islamic State, and this is the punishment of anybody fighting Islamic State,' " a witness said.

The insurgents had ordered men from the tribe to leave their villages and go to Hit, 80 miles west of Baghdad, promising them "safe passage," tribal leaders said. They were then seized and shot.

A mass grave near the city of Ramadi, also in Anbar province, contained 150 members of the same tribe, security officials said.

Islamic State, an al-Qaida offshoot, has beheaded or shot dead anyone it captures who opposes its ideology. Its gunmen systematically executed about 600 inmates from Badoush Prison near the city of Mosul in June, Human Rights Watch said Thursday. Citing the accounts of 15 survivors, it said the group singled out Shiite prisoners, forced them to kneel along the edge of a nearby ravine and shot them with assault rifles and automatic weapons

The Awakening militia of Sunni tribesmen was established with U.S. encouragement to fight al-Qaida during the U.S. military's "surge" offensive of 2006-2007. Washington, which no longer has ground forces in Iraq, but is providing air support, hopes that the government can rebuild the shaky alliance with Sunni tribes - particularly in Anbar, which is now mostly under the control of Islamic State, a group that follows an ultra-hardline version of Sunni Islam. …

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