Sunday, November 2, 2014 8:13 pm
The Islamic State group has carried out a fresh wave of mass killings, officials said Sunday, executing more than 200 members of an Iraqi tribe which took up arms against the jihadists.
Women and children were said to be among the scores of members of the Albu Nimr tribe executed over the past 10 days in western Iraq’s Anbar province.
Reports of the killings came with Iraq on edge as hundreds of thousands of Shiites prepare to travel to the city of Karbala this week for an annual pilgrimage.
IS, a Sunni extremist group that has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria, is expected to target Ashura pilgrims, as 10 people died in an attack against Shiites on Sunday.
The executions in Anbar came after members of the Sunni Albu Nimr tribe took up arms against IS in the province, large parts of which have been overrun by the group.
Accounts varied as to the number of people killed and timings of the executions, but all sources spoke of more than 200 executed in recent days.
Police Colonel Shaaban al-Obaidi told AFP that more than 200 people were killed, while Faleh al-Essawi, the deputy head of Anbar provincial council, put the death toll at 258.
The killings are likely aimed at discouraging resistance from powerful local tribes in Anbar.
Pro-government forces have suffered a string of setbacks in Anbar in recent weeks.
That has prompted warnings that the province, which stretches from the borders with Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the western approach to Baghdad, could fall entirely.
Iraqi security forces, who wilted in the face of an IS offensive earlier this year, are fighting to take back territory seized by the jihadists in the country’s Sunni Arab heartland.
IS has declared an Islamic “caliphate” in the territory under its control, imposed its harsh interpretation of sharia law and committed widespread atrocities.
– Bomb blast targets Shiites –
Like other Sunni extremist groups, IS considers Shiites to be heretics and frequently attacks them, posing a major threat to the Ashura religious commemorations, which peak on Tuesday.
A car bomb blast targeting Shiites in Baghdad killed at least 10 people on Sunday, security and medical officials