ISIS executes three Syrian rebel officers

The killing of the FSA officers comes after the rebel army urged for help from ‘friendly’ Arab states to fight the extremist group

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Jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have executed three officers of the Western and Arab-backed rebel Free Syrian Army, Agence France-Presse reported a monitor as saying on Saturday.

The bullet-riddled bodies of the three were found on Friday, two days after suspected Islamist militants kidnapped them in the oil-rich eastern province of Deir Ezzor, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

ISIS, which grew from the ranks of al-Qaeda before splitting with the global jihadist network, is active in both Syria and neighboring Iraq and seeks to set up an Islamic state that straddles both countries.

Air raids killed 16 people in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province Saturday, most of them people gathered at a mourning tent for FSA officers murdered by jihadists, an NGO said.

Warplanes “bombed the locality of Muhassen six times, killing 16 people, including three women,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Observatory director Rami Abdul Rahman said one of the targets had been the tent and that “most of the victims died in that raid.”

The Britain-based Observatory said the bodies of the FSA’s deputy commander for the area and two other rebel officers had been found Friday on the banks of the nearby Euphrates River near Muhassen.

The FSA this month called for help from “friendly and brotherly Arab nations” to fight ISIS in Deir Ezzor.

Rebels in Syria, including al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria al-Nusra Front militants, have been battling ISIS since the start of the year, in fighting that has reportedly killed more than 6,000 people.

The clashes have mostly raged in the north and east of the country, and on Friday ISIS seized control of the areas of Hafez and Muhassen in Deir Ezzor.

The FSA officers executed by the jihadists had been kidnapped in Hafez, the Britain-based Observatory said.

ISIS has been battling Iraqi government forces since June 9, when in launched a lightening offensive in the north of the country.

Lack of proper funding is hurting FSA. In mid-June, top nine FSA officers resigned over shortages and mismanagement of military aid from donor countries

ISIS militants took control of an Iraq-Syria border crossing after Syrian rebels withdrew overnight, security officers and witnesses said on Friday.

The sources said insurgents took control of the al-Qaim border crossing, one of three official border points between Iraq and Syria, after gunmen linked to FSA and al-Nusra Front left.

“Gunmen took full control of al-Qaim and areas surrounding it,” a police lieutenant colonel, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

He said the militants, who include ISIS but also several other armed Sunni groups, did not enter the actual border crossing buildings for fear of booby traps.

An army major confirmed that the town and its surrounding areas were in insurgent hands.

The takeover of al-Qaim spurred families in the town to flee, according to an Iraqi border guard whose unit is stationed in the town of Rawa, to the east.

Gunmen loyal to the FSA and Al-Nusra Front seized the Iraqi side of the border crossing on June 17 following the withdrawal of security forces and after having already held control of the Syrian side.

(With AFP)

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