Another day, another Islamic State atrocity. Four members of the popular Raqqa (Syria) football team Al-Shabab have been executed, according to an activist group monitoring ISIS in the region. A fifth man not associated with the team was also executed. According to the extremists, the men were accused of spying for the Kurdish YPG (The People’s Protection Units, the military arm of the Democratic Union Party and the Federation of Northern Syria – Rojava).
The Clarion Project reported on July 10 that five men, four of them football players, were executed in front of a crowd of children, according to human rights activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently. According to ISIS, which had forbidden the playing or viewing of football games since their takeover in 2014, the five men were all accused of acting as spies for the Kurdish YPG in Syria.
The ISIS restriction against football is nothing new in terms of extremist views towards sports under the draconian rule of sharia law. In fact, the Taliban, when they took control in Afghanistan in 1996, became famous for the conversion of the country’s soccer fields, once sites of competition and recreation, into public execution centers.
According to the Daily Mail, Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently posted photos of the atrocity on the group’s Twitter feed. In the photos, children can be seen looking over the bodies of the beheaded men.
The four men were identified as Osama Abu Kuwait, Ihsan Al Shuwaikh, Nehad Al Hussen, and Ahmed Ahawakh. The fifth man was left unidentified.
The Daily Mail also reported that last year, ISIS executed 13 teenage boys in Iraq for watching the 2015 Asian Cup match-up between Japan and Jordan. The teens had been caught watching the match on television in the city of Mosul, according to Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently. They were subsequently rounded up and shot in public by a firing squad with machine guns.
Mosul, too, has seen its share of atrocities committed under ISIS rule for spying since 2014. As was reported by the Inquisitr in May, the militant extremists executed 25 Mosul citizens accused of spying for the Iraqi defense forces. But according to witnesses inside the city, ISIS didn’t bother executing the accused in public, instead choosing to kill them inside the militants’ headquarters. The public was spared the sight of watching the prisoners being lowered in steel cages into a pool of acid, where their bodies were horrifically dissolved.
The execution of the Raqqa football players and the other unidentified man comes as intelligence estimates indicate that ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or, more accurately, ISIL — the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) has lost 12 percent of its original territory in the last six months. According to The Hill, when added to the 14 percent territorial loss exacted on the Islamic extremists and their declared caliphate in 2015, it makes the ISIS-controlled areas in Iraq and Syria roughly equal to the size of Ireland or the state of West Virginia.
At the same time, Pentagon officials announced, according to Newsweek, that 560 more troops will be sent to Iraq to aid in the coming push against the city of Mosul, ISIS’ largest stronghold, in a campaign that has been developing since early this year. The fresh troops will operate out of the just-recaptured al-Qayyara air base, which is 40 miles (60 kilometers) south of Mosul. The base will also be used as a staging area for the attack on Mosul when the decision is made to move against Iraq’s largest northern city. The announcement comes less than three months after the Pentagon announced, via NBC News, that 200 more soldiers were being sent to Iraq to accompany Iraqi troops advancing toward Mosul.
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