Islamic State (Isis) fighters have beheaded seven men and three women close to the besieged Syrian city of Kobani, posting gruesome images to terrify its inhabitants into surrender.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said those beheaded included five Kurdish fighters, three of them women, and four Syrian Arab rebels, captured in clashes outside the town. A civilian — a Kurdish man — was also beheaded.
Images posted on social media purported to show the women’s heads placed on a concrete block in Jarabulus, an Isis-held city on the Euphrates river, about 20 miles west of Kobani.
“I don’t know why they were arrested or beheaded,” Rami Abdulrahman, the director of the observatory said. “Only Islamic State knows why. They want to scare people.”
Isis has beheaded many enemy fighters and civilians during its sweep across northern Syria and Iraq, often to scare local leaders into withdrawing from the battlefield. Its fighters are laying siege to Kobani, the last obstacle in the way of its control of a swathe of territory along the Turkish border.
American-led airstrikes hit Isis positions in five daytime strikes yesterday but failed to prevent them from advancing to within two miles of the city and bombarding it with artillery. Kurdish fighters have complained that they do not have the weapons to fight the jihadists unless at close quarters.
More than 160,000 civilians from around Kobani have fled across the border to Turkey.
There was terror in the government-held city of Homs when two car bombs exploded close to a school in an area dominated by members of President Assad’s Alawite minority, the frequent target of Sunni Islamist rebels.
The governor of Homs said that at least 30 people were killed, many of them children attending school, in the worst single attack since the one-time rebel stronghold fell to the regime.
The surge in violence came as Turkey prepared to debate whether to enter the conflict by allowing foreign military personnel to operate from its bases and permit its own troops to launch operations across the border into Syria.
In an address to the Turkish parliament on the eve of the debate, President Erdogan warned that the war against the jihadists could not be won by military means alone. “Dropping tons of bombs from the air is only a temporary solution and only delays the threats and the danger,” he said.
Qassem Suleimani, Iran’s spy chief, arrived in Damascus yesterday to discuss how the Assad regime and its supporters should respond to the American-led airstrikes.
Iran and Syria increasingly fear that the campaign being waged against Isis will be a precursor for a renewed effort by Syrian rebels to overthrow President Assad.
Saudi Arabia and Jordan have agreed to open their military bases to train more than 10,000 rebel fighters to join the conflict, though that process could take years.