A senior ISIS militant who oversaw the beheadings of captives has been killed, along with five other militants, by Syrian civilians in revenge attacks. As ISIS continues to impose draconian Sharia law across the territory it holds, civilians are increasingly determined to push back, and the attempted murder of jihadis is growing more frequent.
Egyptian-born Abu Zaid al-Masri was the deputy leader of the ISIS-run al-Hesbah police force in Mayadeen, Syria. The Times has reported that his body was found near a power plant south of Mayadeen, located in Deir-al-Zor province.
Al-Masri was found beheaded, his body showing signs of torture, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said. A cigarette had been stuffed in his mouth as a sign of protest against the anti-smoking laws being dogmatically enforced by ISIS. A note, pinned to his torso, read “this is evil, you Sheikh”.
The anti-ISIS activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered has confirmed his death, rank and name. According to Abu Ward, a member of the resistance group that publishes details of ISIS atrocities on social media, the killing was an act of “personal revenge” by civilians who suffered under al-Masri.
Ward also confirmed that five other militants were killed in the same attack, by masked civilians riding motorbikes and driving four wheel drive vehicles. They used guns with silencers for the attack. Following the deaths, an overnight curfew was placed on the city.
The Syrian Observatory has also reported a number of attempted assassinations of ISIS militants by civilians on Monday. In one attack a jihadi was run over by a car whilst standing on a roundabout; in another, a jihadi was struck with a metal object by a man travelling on a motorbike.
These attacks are not the first time that Syrian civilians have risen up against their ISIS occupiers – in November, an ISIS judge and his bodyguard were killed by masked gunmen in Abu Kamal, a town lying 30 miles to the south of Mayadeen.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon has confirmed that American troops have begun to train Iraqi forces for two offensives designed to eject ISIS from the country, planned to take place later this year. 300 marines, and a further 170 soldiers from the US Army’s 1st Infantry Division are involved in the training effort.
The first offensive will focus on Mosul, Iraq’s second city, which fell to ISIS in June after the Iraqi army abandoned their positions. A second offensive will concentrate on Anbar province, just west of Baghdad.
Khaled al-Obeidi, Iraq’s defence minister yesterday announced that the Iraqi army is in the process of rebuilding following it’s shaming defeat and collapse in the face of ISIS. The effort to regroup was able to begin in earnest following the resignation of former prime minister Nouri al-Maliki who had come under increasing international pressure to resign.
The US is also finalising plans to begin working with Turkey to train and equip thousands of Syrian opposition fighters within Turkey this spring.