BAGHDAD (AP) — Islamic State group militants lined up 30 men in western Iraq town and shot them dead Wednesday, an official and residents said, the latest mass killing carried out by the group since its advance across the country.
The slayings, on a main street in al-Bakir district in the town of Hit, targeted Sunnis tribal fighters allied with the government and members of the security forces that the extremists captured when they overran the town, the official and the residents said.
The militants first paraded the men through town, shouting through loudspeakers that the captured men are apostates who fought against them, residents said. The extremists then lined up the men and shot them dead with assault rifles, residents said.
A photograph obtained by The Associated Press showed a line of the men’s bodies by a small pool of blood with onlookers walking by.
Anbar provincial council chairman Sabah Karhout said those killed were captured when the Islamic State group overran the town, located about 140 kilometers (85 miles) west of Baghdad, earlier this month.
Karhout called the slayings “a crime against humanity” and demanded more international support for the Sunni tribes fighting the militants in Anbar.
Iraq is in its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops as Sunni militant groups led by the al-Qaida breakaway Islamic State group have seized a third of the country. In one lightning offensive over the summer, Iraq’s U.S.-trained army and security forces melted away as the extremists advanced and captured key cities and towns in country’s north.
In Iraq and along with areas in eastern Syria, the militants have declared a self-styled caliphate and imposed their own harsh interpretation of Shariah law. They also have targeted the country’s religious minorities, including Christians and others, killing hundreds and forcing hundreds of thousands to leave their homes.
A U.S.-led coalition is now targeting Islamic State extremists with airstrikes. U.S. Central Command said the coalition launched six airstrikes in Iraq over Tuesday and Wednesday using jet fighters and drones, hitting targets near Fallujah and Sinjar.
In other violence Wednesday, police said a roadside bomb exploded near an army patrol in a town just south of Baghdad, killing three soldiers and wounding seven. A later bomb blast on a commercial street in Baghdad’s eastern district of Ur killed two people and wounded eight others, police said.
Medical officials confirmed the casualties. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists, while the residents of Hit requested their names not be used out of fears of reprisal.