Islamic State executed 175 of the 300 Syrian cement workers it captured near the Syrian capital of Damascus.
The workers from Al-Badiyeh Cement company, based in the town of Al-Dhmeir 30 miles northeast of Damascus, were reportedly taken from their workplace Thursday and put on buses by ISIS militants. It is believed ISIS staged the execution in an area where its militants were previously fighting forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. (VIDEO: Explained In Two Minutes: The Insane Rise Of ISIS)
It is unclear why ISIS targeted the cement company, though the kidnapping and subsequent execution is another example of the increasingly violent tactics the terrorist group has utilized since it began to lose territory to both Syrian Democratic Forces and the Iraqi Security Forces.
ISIS has also felt pressure from government forces loyal to Assad. Russian forces battered Syrian opposition on behalf of Assad for months before a pseudo-ceasefire was agreed upon in February. While there have been several breaches of the so-called “cessation of hostilities” on both sides, fighting has been limited.
Assad and Russia have been able to turn their attention to fighting ISIS thanks to the cessation. Syrian forces secured a major victory against the terrorist group in late March when they retook the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, a key staging area for ISIS units.
Nick Heras, a Middle East security expert with the Center for a New American Security, has warned the West should expect attacks as ISIS becomes increasingly desperate.
“ISIS fancies itself as a state with the power to deter its strategic enemies and to coerce their behavior, and the external attacks in Europe work towards this goal,” said Heras to CNN. “The West should expect that ISIS has developed a contingency strategy to authorize more attacks inside of Europe even in the event that its would-be caliphate is collapsing in Iraq and Syria, and that even in its dying days ISIS’ proto-state will try to punish Western countries that hastened its end.”
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