In the midst of heavy military losses, fighters from the Islamic State have crucified eight men on electrical poles in their Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, in punishment for crimes committed against the Caliphate.
According to reports, three of the eight men were former members of ISIS who had tried to desert but were arrested before they could escape from Raqqa. Four others were accused of violating unspecified Islamic State “regulations” in Raqqa, while the eighth man was charged with spying for the forces of the international coalition hostile to ISIS.
All eight of the men had been held in prison for as long as a year, but only now were executed.
Witnesses said that prior to the executions an official of the Islamic court read out a sentence explaining the reasons of the death sentence, but did not reveal the identities of the victims.
The executions took place last Sunday according to a local human rights activist, Mahmoud Nadeem, who reported on the killings. The militants closed all the roads leading into the Mansoura district during the execution.
Reports disagree on whether the men were first shot and then crucified, or whether the death blow came while they were strung up on the electrical poles. Pictures just released by the Islamic State seem to suggest that the men were shot after they had been crucified.
— الرقة تذبح بصمت (@Raqqa_SL) April 5, 2016
Two of the photographs show jihadi soldiers holding a gun to the heads of their blindfolded captives, who had previously been tied to poles along a street.
According to another human rights activist who works for a local NGO, most of the young men killed were local born, from the village of al-Hatil.
Several days ago Islamic State leaders issued orders prohibiting Raqqa’a remaining Christians from leaving the city in order to use them as human shields in the event of a Russian-Syrian invasion of the Islamic capital.
The Christians have been forbidden from leaving the city “under any condition,” as armed forces loyal to dictator Bashar al-Assad and their allies advance towards the city.
Just two weeks ago, the Islamic State executed eleven others in Manbij in the Aleppo province of Syria, six on charges of espionage and violation of the laws of the Caliphate, and five others for drug trafficking.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome