[QODLink]
Middle East

'Syrian troops beheaded' in Raqqa

At least 50 soldiers executed by fighters belonging to Islamic State group in country's northeast, activists say.

Last updated: 26 Jul 2014 11:59
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The Islamic State uploaded footage purporting to show the clashes and the takeover of the army's 17th division

Fighters from the Islamic State group have killed at least 50 Syrian soldiers in an ambush in Syria’s northeast, summarily executing most of them after their capture, according to a monitoring group.

The reported deaths on Friday in Raqqa, a stronghold of the Islamic State group, came a day after the self-declared jihadist group launched an assault on the army's 17th Division.

The fighting has left 69 dead on the regime side, including the 50 soldiers, and killed 28 fighters, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported said.

Al Jazeera cannot independently verify the information because of restrictions on reporting from inside Syria. 

Media close to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad remained silent on the deaths in Raqqa.

"Some of them were killed in fighting but most of them were beheaded," Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory, told the AFP news agency.

The Islamic State group claimed the toll was as high as 75.

A Twitter account linked to Islamic State also published pictures of the beheaded corpses and heads of five soldiers killed in Raqqa, saying they belonged to the 17th division.

The assault was a rare direct confrontation of this magnitude between the Islamic State fighters and Syrian government forces, with the group intent on "cleansing" the territories it controls of the regime presence, the Syrian Observatory said.

The Islamic State group, which proclaimed a "caliphate" in an area spanning the Syrian and Iraqi borders in June, controls swathes of land in both countries and is seeking to extend its power and influence.

The group, previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, has mainly advanced in Syria by capturing land from more moderate rebel fighters.

It is now clashing more often with the Syrian military directly, and the army has responded by stepping up aerial bombings on its positions.

Last week, fighters from the Islamic State killed 270 soldiers, guards and staff when it captured a gas field in central Syria, in one of the deadliest clashes between the group and government forces, according to activists.

356

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Featured on Al Jazeera
Your chance to be an investigative journalist in Al Jazeera’s new interactive game.
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Featured
Private citizens take initiative to help 'irregular' migrants, accusing governments of excessive focus on security.
Indonesia's cassava plantations are being killed by mealybugs, and thousands of wasps have been released to stop them.
Violence in Ain al-Arab has prompted many Kurdish Syrians to flee to Turkey, but others are returning to battle ISIL.
Unelected representatives quietly iron out logistics of massive TPP and TTIP deals among US, Europe, and Asia-Pacific.
Led by students concerned for their future with 'nothing to lose', it remains to be seen who will blink first.