Gory images posted to the social media site Twitter showed two men being publicly crucified in Raqqa, Syria, allegedly by members of an Islamic extremist group.
The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant [ISIL], a jihadist group, used its Twitter account to take responsibility for the public crucifixions of two men that allegedly took place Tuesday. The ISIL and other Twitter users shared photos of the crucified men, bloodied and hanging from crosses in what appears to be a main roundabout in Raqqa, with passerby walking nonchalantly passed the victims.
The two crucified men were reportedly among seven victims executed by the ISIL for allegedly trying to throw a grenade at ISIL members. The ISIL is a radical Islamic group that even al-Qaeda has distanced itself from, due to the group's extremism. Aaron Zelin, a jihadi-watcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the Daily Beast that the ISIL had become a "liability to the al-Qaeda brand."
The ISIL group explained via its Twitter account why it crucified the two men on Tuesday. "Ten days ago, attackers on a motorbike threw a grenade at an ISIL fighter at the Naim roundabout. A Muslim civilian had his leg blown off and a child was killed."
"Our fighters immediately set up a roadblock and succeeded in capturing them. They were then able to detain other members of the cell."
One of the photos posted to social media shows a banner wrapped around one of the crucified victims that reads: "This man fought against Muslims and threw a grenade in this place."
It remains unclear whether the two men who were crucified by the ISIL were members of the pro-Syiran government fighters or part of another faction fighting President Bashir Assad's government rule. It is also unclear if the men were killed before being tied to the wooden cross structures, or if they were actually killed on the crosses.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told the AFP that this is not the first time the ISIL has held a public crucifixion. Earlier in April, the extremist group reportedly executed a man in a similar way under the accusation that he stole from a Muslim.
Syria continues to be embroiled in a bloody civil war between pro-Assad forces and rebels seeking to overthrow the government. Although the ISIL has been forced out of much of northern Syria, it still maintains a stronghold in Raqqa and the surrounding area.