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Islamic State fighters massacre as many as 700 Syrian tribesmen, activists report

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By The Associated Press
Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, 10:27 p.m.
 

BEIRUT — The extremist Islamic State shot and beheaded hundreds of tribesmen from eastern Syria in the past two weeks, crushing an uprising they led against the jihadi fighters, activists said on Monday.

The killing of members of the Shueitat tribe happened as Islamic State fighters close in on the last government-held army base in the region. Syrian warplanes bombed the extremists' positions in an attempt to halt their advance.

A Turkey-based activist, who is originally from Deir el-Zour and is in contact with people in the province, said the Islamic State killed as many as 200 members of the Shueitat tribe. On Saturday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll among the tribesmen at 700.

The activist spoke on condition of anonymity for fear that family members in Syria might be harmed.

Last week, Islamic State fighters crushed the Shueitat tribal uprising against their rule in eastern Syria during three days of clashes near the border with Iraq. Tribesmen expelled the jihadi fighters from the villages of Kishkiyeh, Abu Hamam and Granij earlier this month before the Islamic State began a counteroffensive that killed dozens, activists said.

“They considered all members of the Shueitat tribe apostates because they rose against them,” the activist said. “Some men were taken out in the fields and beheaded while others were shot in the head.”

The Islamic State has declared a self-styled caliphate in territory it controls straddling the Iraq-Syria border, imposing a harsh interpretation of Islamic law. They have killed hundreds of people in both countries in the past two months, including some whose heads were later displayed in a public square in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa.

Last month, the jihadis overran the sprawling Division 17 military base in Raqqa province, killing at least 85 soldiers. Two weeks later, Islamic State fighters seized the nearby Brigade 93 base.

They are closing in on the Tabqa air base, the last position held by Syrian government troops in Raqqa province.

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