ISIS has reportedly commenced beheading prisoners immediately in the captured Syrian city of Palmyra.
International Business Times reports local sources have provided international media with pictures of at least four decapitated men in civilian clothing, reportedly either militia fighters loyal to the Syrian regime or members of a local Sunni tribe called the Shaitat.
The UK Daily Mail describes other images “showing decapitated bodies strewn across blood-filled streets in Palmyra.” According to this report, ISIS is now in control of the military airbase, intelligence headquarters, oil fields, and prison maintained near Palmyra by the regime of Bashar Assad.
The prison is infamous for abuses perpetrated by the regime against its inmates; ISIS has been filling social media with photos purporting to show liberated prisoners celebrating alongside the Islamic State’s forces.
It is not clear how many civilians are at ISIS’s mercy in the city. Syrian state television has broadcast claims that pro-government forces were able to get most of the civilian population to safety, but eyewitness accounts say there are still a very large number of people trapped in Palmyra.
As for the historical artifacts and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Palmyra, the Daily Mail quotes Rami Abdulrahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights saying there was no sign of looting or wanton destruction as of yet.
News.com.au cites Abdulrahman’s estimate that 17 people have been executed by ISIS in Palmyra so far, four of them by decapitation. He said some of them were employees of the local administrative council, murdered by ISIS because “they were accused of working with the regime.”
A Syrian activist writing under the name Mohammad Hassan al-Homsi reported that “ISIS is preventing residents from leaving their homes, and is combing civilian houses to find regime loyalists.” He said Palmyra residents were afraid to try fleeing the city after hearing of the Islamic State’s executions and beheadings.