Dozens of Iraqi security forces members are said to have been executed in mass killings conducted by militants from the jihadist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), according to photographs posted on an Islamist website.
According to AFP, the executions were carried out in an unknown location in Iraq's Salaheddin province. The gruesome images show several men in civilian clothing herded into trucks, and being forced to lie face-down on the ground, and later in a shallow ditch, where they are shot dead by militants armed with guns and rifles.
According to the Boston Globe, Iraq's chief military spokesman, Lt Gen Qassim al-Moussawi, has confirmed the photos’ authenticity. He said he was aware of mass killings of captured Iraqi soldiers in areas now held by ISIL. The militants claimed to have executed hundreds of Iraqi soldiers.
Images uploaded on Saturday, June 14, 2014, on the jihadist website Welayat Salahuddin allegedly show militants of extremist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) transporting and executing dozens of captured Iraqi security forces members at an unknown location in Iraq's Salaheddin province. All images by AFP.
In one photo, militants watch as men in civilian clothes, their backs bent, faces staring at the ground and feet bare, shuffle forward in a line. The men are then loaded into trucks, including at least one captured security forces vehicle.
Another photo shows men being made to lie down in a shallow ditch, as militants including a man bearing the ISIL flag look on. A man in a yellow shirt seems to be pleading for his life. The assault rifle-armed militants are then shown apparently firing into the ditch.
Another picture shows a militant aiming his Kalashnikov assault rifle into a ditch holding a double line of men with their hands behind their backs, blood pooling in the sand. A cloud of dust rises from the ditch, apparently from gunshots.
And photos also show a man wearing a red beret of the type issued to Iraqi soldiers holding his Kalashnikov in one hand as he fires into a line of men in what appears to be a third ditch.
The photos appear to show at least three separate places in which men were executed and possibly a fourth, though it is difficult to determine due to varying camera angles.
A major offensive spearheaded by ISIL has overrun all of one Iraqi province and chunks of three others since it was launched last Monday. On Saturday, Iraqi security forces found the burned bodies of 12 policemen after retaking the town of Ishaqi north of Baghdad, pointing to another atrocity carried out by militants.
Security forces performed poorly when faced with the militant offensive, in some cases abandoning vehicles and positions and shedding uniforms to flee. But they appear to be recovering from the initial shock of the onslaught, and have retaken some areas north of the capital.
The United States has condemned the 'horrifying' massacres by ISIL militants.