Reports filtered in Monday of a mass execution by ISIS in the Syrian city of Palmyra, which the extremist militants captured last Wednesday. Those on the ground said the terrorist group has killed at least 300 people since it seized Palmyra several days ago, while Syrian state-run television reported the death toll as 400 people, according to Al Jazeera America. Officials believe that some of the dead are women and children.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a watchdog group led by Syrian expatriates, said in a statement on Sunday that ISIS has executed at least 67 civilians since the Palmyra takeover. SOHR believes out of those civilians, there were 14 children and 12 women killed by ISIS militants. The group claims the reason given by ISIS for their murders was, "dealing with the regime forces and hiding regime's members in their houses."
But there's conflicting reports over whether or not the hundreds killed in Palmyra over the last several days were civilians or government troops. SOHR reported that ISIS militants executed at least 150 Syrian troops, alleging that they were "informer[s] for the regime forces." The human rights group believe another 600 people, believed to be members of the military, are currently detained by ISIS.
However, other sources have claimed that the recent death toll in Palmyra and the surrounding area is more like 300 to 400 people. Syrian state-run television said on Sunday, as quoted by Al Arabiya News:
The terrorists have killed more than 400 people ... and mutilated their bodies, under the pretext that they cooperated with the government and did not follow orders.
Al Arabiya News added that Syrian television claimed many of those killed were not only troops, but employees of the state and their families. Meanwhile, a source on the ground in Palmyra told ARA News that the militants killed at least 300 people, and contradicted the reports that the majority of the casualties were members of the military.
"The absolute majority of victims are
children and women, while the group says those have been punished for
their loyalty to the government," the media activist told ARA News.
The seizure of Palmyra comes on the heels of another major victory for ISIS — the capture of Ramadi, Iraq. While appearing on CNN's State of the Union on Sunday, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter blamed the defeat of the city on Iraqi security forces, saying the Iraqi troops had "no will to fight."
"[Iraqi security forces] vastly outnumbered the opposing force, and yet they failed to fight,” the defense secretary said. “They withdrew from the site, and that says to me —and I think most of us — that we have an issue with the will of Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves.”The Department of Defense and its Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve said Sunday that U.S.-led airstrikes have continued in both Iraq and Syria. Four airstrikes struck an ISIS tactical unit, destroying several pieces of military equipment, the DOD said.
Images: Getty Images (1)