An Al-Qaeda-affiliated group in Syria has announced the execution of two soldiers and three “collaborators” with President Bashar al-Assad’s regime near Damascus, according to a statement published on jihadist sites.
The Al-Nusra Front also published a photograph showing the bodies of five men, their hands tied and their mouths bound with handkerchiefs. Bloodstains can be seen on the ground next to the bodies.
“Al-Nusra Front has arrested several people collaborating with the regime in Damascus province. They are known to have assassinated fighters and other Muslims, and to have provided information to enable the regime to bombard them,” the Front said in a statement.
“God’s will has been carried out against several collaborators of the Nusayri regime,” it added, using a derogatory term to refer to Alawites.
Syria’s anti-regime jihadists have an extremist, sectarian interpretation of Sunni Islam, and brand non-Sunnis — including Alawites such as Assad — as apostates.
The two soldiers among the group that was executed in the Eastern Ghouta area east of Damascus included a member of Syria’s elite Republican Guard, the statement said.
The statement emerged amid a major rebel offensive aimed at breaking a year-long army siege on the Eastern Ghouta area.
Scores of fighters have been killed on both sides in the escalation.
Rebels have taken over several small villages since Saturday, reversing a trend of army advances against opposition-held areas.
Meanwhile a monitoring group said Wednesday that another jihadist group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, had executed the head of an anti-Assad rebel battalion, accusing him of “apostasy”.
ISIL executed “a rebel battalion leader, accusing him of insulting God and of apostasy,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The battalion has been locked in combat against ISIL, which has pressed hard to crush other rebel groups in areas across eastern and northern Syria.
ISIL executed the rebel leader after holding him for three days, the Observatory said.
Syrian activists have repeatedly denounced abuses committed by jihadists, who have taken advantage of Syria’s war to establish a presence in the country.