Written by Staff Writer
29 Aug, 2014 | 8:43 am
Islamic State fighters have executed 250 Syrian soldiers captured when the group seized an air base in the province of Raqqa at the weekend, according to a video posted yesterday confirmed as genuine by an Islamic State fighter.
The video showed the bodies of dozens of men lying face down. Their bodies were stretched out in a long line that appeared to be dozens of metres long.
Talking via the Internet, an Islamic State fighter in Raqqa said: “Yes we have executed them all.”
Islamic State, a radical offshoot of al Qaeda, stormed Tabqa air base on Sunday after days of clashes with the army and said it had captured and killed soldiers and officers in one of the fiercest confrontations yet between the two sides.
The capture of Tabqa, the Syrian army’s last foothold in that area, and apparent killing of large numbers of its soldiers shows Islamic State’s grip on the north of the country. The group has also seized territory in eastern Syria and large areas of neighbouring Iraq in recent months.
Earlier yesterday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the conflict using sources on the ground, said the soldiers who were executed had been trying to escape from the airport when they were captured by militant fighters of the Islamic State.
Syrian state media confirmed the attack on the base but has not reported any deaths or any army members being captured. It has said Islamic State suffered heavy losses in the battle over the base.
Tabqa was the army’s last foothold in an area otherwise controlled by the Islamic State militants, who aim to set up a trans-border caliphate in the Iraqi and Syrian territory they have captured.
The United States has carried out air strikes on Islamic State in Iraq and has left open the option for similar action in Syria.
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