BAGHDAD, Nov 1 – Islamic State has executed 85 more members of the Albu Nimr tribe in Iraq, a tribal leader and security official said on Saturday, part of a mass killing campaign launched last week to break local resistance to the group’s territorial advances.
Tribal chief Sheikh Naeem al-Ga’oud told Reuters Islamic State had killed 50 members of Albu Nimr who were fleeing the group in Anbar Province on Friday. In a separate incident, a security official said 35 bodies had been found in a mass grave.
Islamic State has executed a total of more than 300 tribe members in the past few days, Ga’oud and the official said.
The sustained bloodshed appears to demonstrate the group’s resilience to U.S. air strikes against militant targets in the chunks of Iraq and Syria it now controls.
Ga’oud said he had repeatedly asked the Shi’ite-led central government in Baghdad for arms but his pleas had been ignored.
Albu Nimr had held out for weeks under siege by Islamic State, but finally ran low on ammunition, fuel and food.
Hundreds of tribal fighters withdrew and members of the tribe fled their main village of Zauiyat albu Nimr. Many were rounded up, shot at close range and dumped in mass graves.
Islamic State’s advances have fueled sectarian bombings, kidnappings and shootings that occur almost daily in Iraq, echoing the dark days of 2006-2007, the peak of a civil war.
A car bomb killed seven people in the town of Yusufiya just south of Baghdad, police and medical sources said.
Terrorism and violence killed at least 1,273 people in October, compared to at least 1,119 in September, said the United Nations mission to Iraq. The figures excluded the vast desert province of Anbar in western Iraq.
Anbar squeezed by militants
In Anbar, the militants are encircling a large air base and the vital Haditha dam on the Euphrates. Fighters control towns from the Syrian border to parts of provincial capital Ramadi and into the lush irrigated areas near Baghdad
Anbar was the main battleground between U.S. Marines and al Qaeda during the “surge” campaign in 2006-2007, when American troops enlisted the tribes to help them defeat al Qaeda.
Members of the Albu Nimr tribe then helped the Americans to defeat al Qaeda in its Anbar stronghold.
Ga’oud said the 50 tribe members were killed near Tharthar Lake near a desert area. They had been wandering by foot when they were intercepted by the Sunni militants.
He said one managed to escape the carnage and get word to tribal leaders.
“Forty of the dead were men. Six women and four children were killed while trying to protect their husbands and fathers,” said Ga’oud.
His account was confirmed by Faleh al-Essawi, the chief of the security committee of the Anbar Provincial Council.
In the other incident, 35 corpses were found on the outskirts of Ramadi. “They were handcuffed and blindfolded. Some were wearing tracksuits and others were wearing dish-dash robes,” an eyewitness told Reuters.
Iraq’s Shi’ite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi wants Sunni tribal leaders to support the Iraqi army against Islamic State, which has threatened to march on Baghdad. But mistrust has undermined efforts to revive an alliance.