TEL AVIV – The Islamic State organization has published pictures of its militants destroying stacks of alcohol and cigarettes found in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in the vicinity of Damascus.
The pictures, obtained by Breitbart Jerusalem from the Islamic State Telegraph Forum, an encrypted message service for IS and its supporters, seem part of a new public relations push attempting to discredit the al-Qaeda-aligned Nusra Front, a rival jihadi organization that controlled the camp until recently.
The camp, strategically located on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, has witnessed bloody clashes between IS and the Nusra Front, with IS expelling Nusra fighters from most areas in the camp, even though last-ditch battles are still raging.
IS hasn’t attributed cigarettes and alcohol possession to Nusra Front, but in online jihadi forums reviewed by Breitbart Jerusalem, the move was interpreted as an attempt to portray the rival organization as lenient on enforcement of Islamic law. The two militias have been fighting each other in other places in the country, such as Arsal, near the Lebanese border, and Dara, near the Jordanian border.
You can see pictures below of the alcohol and cigarettes being destroyed.
Meanwhile, IS has also published pictures of this season’s abundant plum harvests in an attempt to portray business as usual.
The plum pictures come against a backdrop of Western reports that IS has declared a state of emergency in Raqqa, the so-called capital of the “caliphate.” Steve Warren, a spokesperson for the U.S.-led coalition in Syria, told reporters that the organization is bracing for a possible coalition offensive.
You can see pictures of the plum harvest below.
Several reports have said that IS operatives have begun evacuating Raqqa’s women and children to other locations under IS’s control.
“We have seen this declaration of emergency in Raqqa, whatever that means,” Warren said.
“We know this enemy feels threatened, as they should. They see the Syrian Democratic Forces along with the Syrian Arab Coalition maneuver both to their east and to their west.”
“We’ve had reports of [IS] re-positioning both their combat capabilities and personnel, either within the city or even out of the city,” Warren said. “So, rightfully, [IS] understands that their days are increasingly numbered. We are going to continue to keep this pressure on them and we expect to see them collapse eventually.”