01/20/2017, 09.41
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Palmyra: the Islamic State executes 12 people, beheading four

The other eight victims shot dead. The executions took place in a museum, not far from the ruins of the heritage site. Four of the victims were teachers and government employees. Daesh jihadists accumulating explosives to destroy other ancient artifacts.


Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The militias of the Islamic State (IS) have beheaded four people and killed eight others shot to death in the symbolic city of Palmyra, one of the places where the jihadist devastation was most ruthless in Syria. A portion of the killings took place in the inner yard of a museum, not far from the ruins of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

According to reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the four victims are teachers and government employees; along with these four government soldiers and four rebels, captured earlier.

In December, the jihadists retook control of the area despite Russian air raids and Syrian army support. The IS  responded with artillery fire and suicide attacks. In the 10 months of occupation Palmyra, a UNESCO heritage site with two thousand years of history behind it, Daesh [Arabic acronym for the IS] has destroyed many monuments and executed the director of antiquities. The area is of ​​strategic importance for the militants because of the many oil fields in the subsurface.

According to the activist group Palmyra Monitor, some of the executions took place in the Roman amphitheater.

The jihadi militias have managed to reclaim the area, taking advantage of the full involvement of government forces of President Bashar al-Assad in the battle for Aleppo. Russian sources in the area say that Daesh [Arabic acronym for the Islamic state] are accumulating massive amounts of explosives to destroy other ancient artifacts.

This latest manifestation of jihadist violence could be an attempted response by the the militia, who continue to lose ground in both Syria and in neighboring Iraq.

According to a study by IHS Markit, the UK institution that is an expert on security and defense, last year Daesh militias lost about a quarter of the territory gained since the beginning of their advance in 'summer of 2014. The jihadist group has lost an area of ​​approximately 18 thousand square kilometers and now controls "only" an area of ​​around 60,400 square kilometers, an extension equal to the size of Florida (USA).

Commenting on the Iraqi army offensive and fighting groups of Mosul, which began in mid-October, British experts say that it could end with a positive outcome by mid-2017. The IHS Markit study showed that in 2016 the IS saw a reduction of 23% of its territory; a dramatic drop compared to 14% last year, when it was already showing the first signs of a halt to its advance unopposed since the second half of 2014. The jihadist movement, experts point out, he has lost "vital areas" from its "Initial Project" which aimed at the (re) birth of the Islamic Caliphate.

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