Palmyra civilian describes IS’s execution of captured soldiers


May 28, 2015

The Islamic State executed nearly a dozen prisoners in Palmyra on Wednesday in the town’s ancient amphitheater amidst conflicting information about the identity and number of those killed.

Here, Naser al-Thaer, a member of the Coordination Council of the Syrian Revolution in Palmyra, describes the scene of the execution to Moatasem Jamal.

Q: Can you describe the scene of the execution to me? Was the audience composed of civilians or military men? Were people forced to attend?

“The scene consisted of 15 people in the Palmyra amphitheater who were executed by live fire, not by knife. Around 100 people attended the execution, half civilians and the other half IS fighters. IS did not force civilians to attend, those who went attended by their own free will and out of curiosity. If IS had forced people to attend, the theater would have been packed.

Civilians were forbidden to take pictures, only the IS photographers were allowed to. It was cinematic when they filmed the execution.”

Q: We’ve heard conflicting information—some say IS executed captured soldiers, others say civilians. Which is true?

“IS executed Iranian soldiers and others from Asiastic nationalities. Whoever said they were civilians, like the SOHR and other media outlets, don’t know a thing about the executions.”

Q: Why did the Islamic State execute those prisoners in the ancient theater?

“IS wanted to execute them in the theater in order to release a compelling video of the execution [at a later date]. It will add its battles in Palmyra to the video, and will show off of its forces.”

Q: As far as you know, what will IS do with the Palmyra ruins in general?

“It won’t do a thing. To begin with there’s nothing left, because the regime stole statues and mummies from the Palmyra museum before they exited. They weren’t about to leave anything to IS, and will accuse IS of stealing the artifacts and destroying them. As for the theater and temples, IS will not go near them.”

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