According to reports from northern Iraq corroborated by photos shared on social media Tuesday, Islamic State militants have publicly beheaded three men, at least two of them for allegedly engaging in homosexual acts.
A series of images published on social media show blindfolded men kneeling in front of a large crowd, supposedly in the Nineveh province of northern Iraq. Above him, a masked executioner, dressed in black, raises a long, rusty sword.
The published photos do not show the decapitated corpses, but reports claim that the three young men were killed for “blasphemy.” Under Islamic State-imposed sharia law, homosexuality is punishable by death.
Photo captions claim that the trio were executed.
Unconfirmed social media reports also have suggested that two of the young men were a couple.
Since ISIS took control of territory in Iraq and Syria, there have been several executions of homosexuals, with several being thrown off buildings or stoned to death. They have branded homosexuals the “worst of creatures.”
Iraqi forces launched a huge operation last week aimed at retaking the city of Tikrit that, if successful, would serve as a stepping stone towards Mosul.
ISIS currently controls about a third of Iraq and Syria.
The Kurdish peshmerga forces, backed by US air strikes, have launched a new offensive against the militia of the Islamic State in Kirkuk, a town in northern Iraq. The peshmerga are advancing from the southwest towards the center, in an attempt to crush the jihadist militias that, in recent weeks, have carried out numerous attacks in the area and throughout the province.
The Islamists, meanwhile, have sent more fighters to the city of Tikrit, in an attempt to halt the advance of the army and Iraqi Shiite militias.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome.