BAGHDAD, March 17, (Agencies): The Islamic State jihadist group on Thursday released pictures of six men being executed on charges of “spying” for the Iraqi government in the city of Fallujah. In a statement posted on social media, the IS jihadists use three different methods to execute their victims, all wearing orange jumpsuits. “The judicial police carried out death sentences issued by an Islamic court in Fallujah against several apostates after they were convicted of spying,” the statement said.
The statement was written like an official government release and described the circumstances that led to the capture of each of the six men. The pictures showed masked IS fighters in full tactical gear, against the backdrop of a heavily damaged city. Four of the victims were shot in the head, one was decapitated with a knife and another with an explosive rope.
Fallujah lies in Anbar province only 50 kms (30 miles) west of Baghdad and is the jihadist group’s largest remaining stronghold in Iraq after the city of Mosul. IS controlled most of Anbar a few months ago but sweeping military operations by the Iraqi security forces backed by air strikes from the US-led coalition are turning the tide.
Fallujah is almost completely isolated from other IS-controlled territory and IS is believed to be increasingly struggling to get supplies into the city.
The situation also appears to be causing increased internal tension in Fallujah, with IS paranoid that residents are assisting with an impending government offensive. Jihadists detained dozens of residents of the city last month after clashes between IS and Iraqi tribesmen.
The United States and its allies targeted Islamic State with 22 strikes in Iraq and Syria on Wednesday, the coalition leading the operations said. In a statement released Thursday, the Combined Joint Task Force said two strikes near Al Hawl, Syria, hit a tactical unit and destroyed 10 Islamic State fighting positions.
In Iraq, 20 strikes near eight cities struck weapons factories, propaganda sites and destroyed assembly areas, a mortar position and bed down locations, among other targets, the statement said. An Iraqi military spokesman says a reconnaissance and combat plane has crashed while on a mission over an Islamic State-controlled area in the country’s north.
The spokesman for the Joint Military Command, Brig Gen Yahya Rasool, told The Associated Press on Thursday that the Cessna 208 Caravan single-engine turboprop crashed on Wednesday while hovering near the town of Hawija, 210 kilometers (130 miles) north of Baghdad.
Rasool added that an investigation was underway to determine what caused the crash and the fate of its crew. The IS-affiliated Aamaq news agency claimed it had shot down the aircraft, posting a video of a plane falling to the ground and militants gathering around the wreckage. The authenticity of the video could not be independently verified by the AP. An Iraqi offensive against the Islamic State group near the town of Hit has driven some 35,000 people from their homes, a US military spokesman said Wednesday.