Islamic State militants kill over 220 Iraqis from tribe that opposed them
BAGHDAD: Islamic State militants executed over 220
Iraqis in retaliation against a tribe’s opposition to their takeover of
territory west of Baghdad, security sources and witnesses said.
Two mass graves were discovered on Thursday containing
some of the 300 members of the Sunni Muslim Albu Nimr tribe that Islamic State
had seized this week. The captives, men aged between 18 and 55, had been shot
at close range, witnesses said.
The bodies of more than 70 Albu Nimr men were dumped
near the town of Hit in the Sunni heartland Anbar province, according to
witnesses who said most of the victims were members of the police or an
anti-Islamic State militia called Sahwa (Awakening).
“Early this morning we found those corpses and we were
told by some Islamic State militants that ‘those people are from Sahwa, who
fought your brothers, the Islamic State, and this is the punishment of anybody
fighting Islamic State’,” a witness said.
The insurgents had ordered men from the tribe to leave
their villages and go to Hit, 130 km (80 miles) west of Baghdad, promising them
safe passage, tribal leaders said. They were then seized and shot.
A mass grave near the city of Ramadi, also in Anbar
province, contained 150 members of the same tribe, security officials said. The
Awakening militia were established with the encouragement of the United States
to fight al Qaeda during the US ‘surge’ offensive of 2006-2007.
Washington, which no longer has ground forces in Iraq
but is providing air support, hopes the government can rebuild the shaky
alliance with Sunni tribes, particularly in Anbar which is now mostly under the
control of Islamic State, a group that follows an ultra-hardline version of
But Sunni tribal leaders complain that Shi’ite Prime
Minister Haider al-Abadi has failed to deliver on promises of weapons to
counter Islamic State's machineguns, sniper rifles, rocket-propelled grenades
Sheikh Naeem al-Ga’oud, one of the leaders of the Albu
Nimir tribe, said, “The Americans are all talk and no action.”
Islamic State was on the march in Anbar this year even
before it seized much of northern Iraq in June. As the government and fighters
from the autonomous Kurdish region have begun to recapture territory in the
north, Islamic State has pressed its advances in Anbar, coming ever closer to
In the north, government forces said they were closing
in on the city of Baiji from two sides on Thursday in an attempt to break
Islamic State's siege of Iraq's biggest oil refinery. A member of the Iraqi
security forces said they might enter the city in the next few hours but he
acknowledged that roadside bombs and landmines were slowing the advance.