A propaganda video reportedly published online by the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) on Sunday appears to show members of the jihadi group executing fellow Sunnis in Iraq for cooperating with local security forces.
The 21-minute footage reportedly shows ISIS jihadis executing at least seven Sunni captives, including village chiefs and members of a Baghdad-sanctioned umbrella organization for predominantly Iran-backed Shiite militiamen — the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) known as Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic.
At least one of the victims was decapitated, Rudaw notes.
The Kurdish news outlet points out that besides the executions, the video purportedly shows recent alleged battles with Iraqi security forces in Iraq’s eastern Diyala province and an explosives workshop.
“The Diyala division of the Islamic State’s (IS) Iraq Province released a video documenting its attacks on Iraqi soldiers and Federal Police as well as Popular Mobilization Units (PMU/F), and its execution of captured elements, including the beheading of a local representative as a warning to others,” the SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks jihadi activity online, confirmed.
IS Video Documents Attacks on Iraqi Security Personnel in Diyala, Beheading of Town Representative as Warning https://t.co/4fm2HmNckX
— SITE Intel Group (@siteintelgroup) April 15, 2019
In the video, ISIS reportedly warns Sunni PMF members and local officials known as mukhtars not to provide information about jihadi activities in the region to the Iraqi security forces.
“Stop killing the Mujahideen [holy warriors] and do not get involved in a fight doomed to defeat,” one ISIS militant declares before executing a Sunni fighter captive identified as Hameed Rakan.
Another man named as Mohammed Abdullah, who they claim is the mukhtar of the village of Big Bahiza in Diyala, is also beheaded. At least seven captives are executed in the graphic film, in which the militants pledge continued allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It is unclear when and where precisely the footage was captured.
Breitbart News was unable to independently corroborate the existence of the propaganda video.
The majority of PMF fighters are Shiites, but the force also includes members of Iraqi minority groups such as Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians.
Baghdad has legalized the PMF as a component of the Iraqi security forces despite the Shiite militia group’s link to U.S.-designated state sponsor of terrorism Iran and threats against American troops.
U.S. military leaders have praised the PMF’s contribution to the fight against ISIS. The estimated 5,000 American troops in Iraq are expected to remain in the country for the foreseeable future. U.S. troops in Iraq are expected to be able to go into neighboring Syria —where the U.S. footprint is expected to decrease — if necessary.
ISIS remnants continue to pose a threat to Iraq despite the complete loss of the terrorist group’s territorial caliphate to U.S.-backed local forces last month, according to U.S. military and intelligence officials.
Although U.S.-backed Iraqi forces declared victory over the jihadi organization at the end of 2017, ISIS continues to operate in rural regions of Iraq, even collecting taxes from locals.
Rudaw reports that the Hamrin Mountains, which straddle the Iraqi provinces of Saladin, Diyala, and Kirkuk, “have become a hotbed for the new insurgency developing in Iraq.”
On Sunday, a U.S.-backed operation conducted by Iraqi counterterrorism forces killed the ISIS “military governor” in the northern Hamrin Mountains along with three of his aides, Yahya Rasul, spokesperson for the Iraqi security forces, wrote on Twitter.
U.S.-led coalition forces continue to carry out airstrikes to deal a lasting defeat to ISIS in Iraq and Syria.