ISIS has released a video clip released showing a group of children executing 25 regime soldiers in Palmyra’s historical amphitheater in front of a large audience.
The ten-minute clip of the mass execution appears to be filmed inside the city’s ancient Roman amphitheater, a UNESCO world heritage site, following ISIS’ capture of Palmyra in May.
The group’s use of young boys, pictured holding guns and dressed in camouflage, to commit the atrocities has drawn condemnation from human rights activists.
Syrian media activist Ghalib Tohme Abu al-Joud said in a press statement: "ISIS focuses on the training of all soldiers to become leaders, and these usually become the first row fighters, which explains the large number of leaders killed in the clashes and the ease of replacing them. This is one the most important factors to attract new fighters, and we know that the statement “Believe our honesty through the martyrdom of our leaders” is common among the jihadist factions". Abu al-Joud concluded by saying that "this is a fundamental reasons for the continuation and expansion of ISIS in some regions".
Syria’s head of antiquities, Maumoon Abdulkarim, recently said he fears the executions are a prelude to "barbaric and brutal actions to be carried out by ISIS against the antiquities in Palmyra. The use of the Roman amphitheater to execute people proves that these people are against humanity", he said.
Dawn of Freedom Brigades commander Ammar al-Ashqar claims the double standards adopted by Western countries in dealing with the Arab and Muslim issues has increased the social acceptance of extremist organizations, which often recruit under the slogan: "Fighting the West". Western countries classification of these organizations as "terrorist" reassured many fighters about the approach ISIS adopted against the West, this is one of the main reasons behind the survival of ISIS and the growing number of fighters joining it, Ashqar says.
According to many experts, there is a prevailing idea among the Arab communities that the operations of the Arab and international coalition in Syria and Iraq target the Sunni Arabs, which has helped boost ISIS support in the general social milieu, as the coalition routinely ignores crimes committed by the Assad regime and the Shia militias in Syria and Iraq.
Translated and edited by The Syrian Observer