The mayor of a small town in western Iraq confirmed on Monday that 200 residents are being held captive by the Islamic militant group known as ISIS. Trouble in Rutbah, in Anbar province near the Jordanian border, started Saturday when Islamic State militants killed a local resident for killing a member of the group as part of a long-running clan blood feud. Hundreds of residents demonstrated later that day to protest the killing and clashes broke out when the militants attempted to disperse the protesters.
An Anbar province leader said more than 70 residents were detained by the militants and nearly 100 more were tied to streetlight poles for 24 hours as punishment. Imad al-Rishawy said nearly 200 are still being held by ISIS militants at an unknown location and that the town fears that they might be killed.
Demonstrations against the militant group has been rare since the terror group has taken control of much of Iraq in the summer of 2014. The group has zero tolerance for noncompliance with its radical interpretation of Islam or cooperation with authorities in Baghdad, routinely handing down severe punishments like beheadings, burning offenders to death or, in less serious cases, flogging or placing offenders in cages placed at public squares.
Ahmad explained that members of various tribes, including members of al-Kabisat, staged a rally after IS executed a Kabisat tribesman in the center of the town, about 265 miles north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, on charges of killing an Islamic State group fighter. Iraqi officials confirmed on Monday that roadside bombs near the capital city killed four people, including two police officers and injured a dozen. A spokesperson for the the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Mosul, Iraq, Saeed Mamouzini, said the militant group has executed nearly two dozen of fellow militants in the Islamic State-held city.
The party official added that the group also executed five of its own militants on charges of carrying out an armed attack on the self-proclaimed Mosul Governor Abu Abdul Majid Afar in Qayyarah district of Nineveh Province last July. No details on what happened to Afar have been reported. Mamouzini added that IS executed 15 more of its fighters for fleeing clashes with the Iraqi army.
Earlier this month, Islamic State group abductced 200 civilians in Syria’s Homs province. The abduction was reported in the town of Qaryatain, 45 miles southeast of Homs, the provincial capital. This was once a town of over 14,000 people that has now been reduced to under 300 inhabitants. Many have fled, while more than 800 are still missing.
The Islamic State group, which has been accused by the U.N. of executing more than 8,000 people and of war crimes, has taken advantage of the civil war in Syria – which began in 2011 and has since left over 250,000 people dead and over 11 million displaced – and now controls over half of the territory, while in Iraq it has taken over large swathes. On Sunday, Reuters reported that the Islamic State group had destroyed part of an ancient temple in Syria’s Palmyra city.