IS captures Iraqi town, detains and kills dozens of people in Palmyra

Islamic State militants have seized another town in Iraq's western Anbar province less than a week after capturing the provincial capital, a tribal leader said Friday, while in neighboring Syria the group's fighters killed dozens of pro-government forces in the ancient town of Palmyra.
A-file-picture-shows-a-partial-view-of-the-ancient-oasis-city-of-Palmyra-215-kilometres-northeast-of-Damascus-AFP-Photo-Joseph-Eid
A-file-picture-shows-a-partial-view-of-the-ancient-oasis-city-of-Palmyra-215-kilometres-northeast-of-Damascus-AFP-Photo-Joseph-Eid
Updated on May 23, 2015 01:25 AM IST
Copy Link
AP | By, Baghdad

Islamic State militants have seized another town in Iraq's western Anbar province less than a week after capturing the provincial capital, a tribal leader said Friday, while in neighboring Syria the group's fighters killed dozens of pro-government forces in the ancient town of Palmyra.

Islamic State fighters combed Palmyra, detaining and killing dozens of people two days after seizing the town, which is home to one of the Middle East's most famous archaeological sites, activists and officials said.

Homs-based activist Bebars al-Talawy and an opposition Facebook page said that as many as 280 soldiers and pro-government forces have been killed in Palmyra since it was captured Wednesday.

Al-Talawy said militants abducted soldiers and pro-government gunmen from homes, shops and other places where they had gone to hide. He added that many were shot dead in the streets.

He said IS fighters used loudspeakers warning residents against sheltering troops, leading many to come forward to give information about forces that had melted into the civilian population.

Maamoun Abdulkarim, the head of the Antiquities and Museum Department in the Syrian capital Damascus, said "there are arrests and liquidations in Palmyra." He added that IS fighters are "moving in residential areas, terrifying people and taking revenge."

Watch:ISIS seizes Syria's ancient Palmyra: What's at stake?

Abdulkarim said no gunmen were seen in the area of Palmyra's 2,000-year-old ruins, which once attracted thousands of tourists.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said IS fighters have killed 17 men in Palmyra and that it has unconfirmed reports of the killing of dozens more.

Gov. Talal Barazi of the central province of Homs, which includes Palmyra, said that IS fighters have abducted men and "might have committed massacres."

An amateur video posted on a pro-IS Facebook page showed people and militants gathering around two bloodied men in military uniforms in a Palmyra street. "Let all the residents see them," one of the men in the gathering tells an IS fighter.

The video appeared genuine and corresponded to other AP reporting of the events.

The Observatory and al-Talawy said IS's next target appears to be the Tayfour air base near Palmyra, where many of the Palmyra troops had retreated. They said IS is sending reinforcement to the air base area.

In Iraq, meanwhile, Sheikh Rafie al-Fahdawi said the small Iraqi town of Husseiba fell to the IS group overnight when police and tribal fighters withdrew after running out of ammunition.

"We have not received any assistance from the government. Our men fought to the last bullet and several of them were killed," he told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.

Husseiba is about 7 kilometers (4 miles) east of Ramadi, where IS militants routed Iraqi forces last weekend in their most significant advance in nearly a year.

Al-Fahdawi said that with the fall of Husseiba, the militants have come closer to the strategic Habbaniyah military base, which is still held by government forces.

"The situation is very critical. The militants are about 5 kilometers from Habbaniyah base, which is now in great danger," he said.

A day earlier, IS militants captured the Iraqi side of a key border crossing with Syria after Iraqi government forces pulled out. The fall of the al-Walid crossing, also in Anbar, will help the militants to shuttle weaponry and reinforcements more easily across the Iraqi-Syrian border.

The Iraqi government plans to launch a counteroffensive in Anbar involving Iranian-backed Shiite militias, which have played a key role in pushing back the IS group elsewhere in the country. The presence of the militias could however fuel sectarian tensions in the Sunni province, where anger at the Shiite-led government runs deep.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • Japanese monkeys at the Bioparco di Roma Zoo are being given frozen fruits to cope up with the heatwave. 

    Humans have ice creams, zoo animals have frozen treats for summer heat | Video

    A Rome zoo is feeding frozen fruits, meat and fish to its animals to provide them with some relief from scorching temperatures, news agency AFP said Thursday. In Rome, the mercury on Tuesday touched 39 degrees Celsius and temperatures are expected to remain high in the coming weeks. At a zoo in Punjab's Ludhiana too ice slabs, coolers and fruits have been deployed. Similar initiatives have been taken at the Byculla Zoo in Mumbai.

  • Beer from recycled toilet water

    'Tastes just like beer...I like'. Want beer from recycled toilet water?

    “NEWBrew” is no ordinary beer. The new Singapore blond ale is made with recycled sewage. NEWBrew uses NEWater, Singapore's brand of drinking water recycled from sewage, which first flowed from treatment plants in 2003 to improve the island's water security. Singapore's NEWater is made by disinfecting sewage with ultraviolet light and passing the liquid through advanced membranes to remove contaminant particles. Breweries elsewhere have also made beer with recycled sewage.

  • Dictator's son Marcos Jr. takes oath as Philippine president

    Dictator's son Marcos Jr. takes oath as Philippine president

    The namesake son of an ousted dictator, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., was sworn in as Philippine president Thursday in one of the greatest political comebacks in recent history but which opponents say was pulled off by whitewashing his family's image. Activists and survivors of the martial law-era under his father protested Marcos Jr.'s inauguration, which took place at a noontime ceremony at the steps of the National Museum in Manila.

  • Authorities have moved to eliminate any potential source of embarrassment during Xi's time in the city, with national security police making at least nine arrests over the past week.

    Hong Kong on high alert as Xi Jinping visit expected for handover

    Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Hong Kong Thursday, prompting a massive security effort ahead of celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of the city's handover to communist China. Government leaders have been forced into a closed-loop system, parts of the city shut down, and multiple journalists barred from Friday events that will showcase the Communist Party's control over the city after a political crackdown that dismantled a democracy movement and crushed dissent.

  • The North Korean government has consistently denied any role in cyber-enabled theft.

    North Korean hackers suspected in $100 million Harmony heist

    Suspected North Korean hackers known as the Lazarus Group are believed to be behind the recent $100 million heist on California blockchain Harmony, a firm that tracks stolen cryptocurrency said Wednesday. In April, the US Department of Homeland Security issued an alert saying the group was sponsored by the North Korean government, and that it has targeted crypto firms since 2020.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, June 30, 2022