08/29/2014, 00.00
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From Syria to Iraq, new horrors (and beheadings) by Islamic State militias

After seizing the Raqqa air base, Islamists killed dozens of Syrian government soldiers. The UN calls for the immediate release of UN peacekeepers captured on the Golan Heights. In Iraq, jihadists behead a Kurdish fighter, threaten the leaders of the autonomous region.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) - Jihadist horrors and violence continue unabated in Syria and Iraq with new videos posted (quickly censored) on YouTube showing prisoners decapitated by Islamic State (IS) militias.

In Syria, terrorists killed dozens of government soldiers, after seizing the Raqqa air base last weekend. In neighbouring Iraq, IS extremists beheaded a Kurdish man, as a warning against the autonomous region which, together with the United States, is trying to stop the Islamists.

IS relies on social media and the Internet to post videos and images of violent acts against unarmed civilians or reporters like American Catholic journalist James Foley.

Such propaganda has a double purpose: to terrorise the West and recruit fighters around the world, whilst the Muslim world reacts with (few) formal condemnations and (too much) silence.

Recently, IS militias killed scores of Syrian soldiers captured in the fight for the Tabqa air base. Dozens of men can be seen lying on the ground, in their underwear; nearby, a pile of bodies.

The authenticity of the YouTube video could not be independently verified. The caption beneath it said the dead numbered 250. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors violence in the war, put the death toll at more than 120.

The capture of Raqqa air base, the last Syrian government stronghold in the area, and the probable killing of dozens of soldiers, show how embedded and strong the Islamic state is in northern Syria.

The video was shot in the desert. The lack of any signs of blood in the sand at the scene suggest that the victims were executed elsewhere and their bodies then moved. Such videos are a useful propaganda tool to recruit.

Meanwhile in Quneitra, the most important city in the Golan Heights near the demarcation line with Israel, the fight between Islamists and Syrian forces continues, which Israel is closely following for possible developments.

Jihadists captured 43 United Nations peacekeepers from Fiji. Another 81 Filipino peacekeepers are stuck in two different locations in the area. The UN Security Council called for their "immediate release."

Islamist violence is not limited to Syria, it continues on a daily basis in neighbouring Iraq, where much of the north has been in the hands of the Islamic State for several months.

Recently, IS posted a second video showing the beheading of a Kurdish prisoner. Entitled "A Message in Blood", it shows a group of men said to be captured peshmerga fighters in orange jumpsuits, a reminder of Guantanamo prisoners and US journalist, James Foley.

One of the Kurdish hostages is beheaded with the main mosque in Mosul looming in the background.

After the beheading, the video warns the leaders of the autonomous Kurdistan region that the other prisoners would be slaughtered, if they do not end their alliance with the United States in the fight against the Caliphate.


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