Militants from the Islamic State, an al-Qaeda breakaway group, are taking advantage of the world’s focus on Iraq to push deeper into eastern Syria and are using beheadings and crucifixion to intimidate opponents, according to an opposition human rights group.
The Islamic State ordered residents in the town of al-Sha’fa to hand over members of the al-Sheetat clan who had tried to resist the group, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. It beheaded two men, the group said.
Militants also crucified two men from the town of al-Mayadeen also in the Deir Ezzour province after charging them with “dealing with the apostates,” the rights group said on its Facebook page. Apostates are people who have abandoned a faith or cause. Two other men from al-Bolel town were executed by the fighters for “insulting” god, it said.
The Islamic State, which used to call itself Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and is seeking to create a religious caliphate that crosses national borders, holds vast swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq, including key installations such as dams, military outposts and Iraq’s second biggest city, Mosul.