Islamic State Executes at Least 40 Tribal and Iraqi Government Fighters

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Massacre in Central Square of Hit Likely to Frustrate Efforts to Rally Counteroffensive Against Militants.

Islamic State fighters killed at least 40 Sunni tribal fighters and security forces personnel in a public mass execution that is likely to further damp enthusiasm among Sunni Arabs for fighting the powerful insurgent group.

Sabah Karhout, the head of the provincial council of Anbar in western Iraq, said Islamic State fighters paraded 40 fighters from the Albu Nimr tribe through downtown Hit, a city 85 miles west of Baghdad, on Wednesday afternoon before shooting and killing them in front of local residents in the city’s central square.

Reports from Islamic State sources on Twitter said the group killed as many as 46 men in Hit.

Eyewitnesses took photographs of the shooting’s aftermath that showed nearly two dozen bloodied corpses lying in a row on an urban street. The images’ authenticity couldn’t be independently verified.

The execution-style deaths add to Iraqi security forces’ considerable woes. Such killings aren’t an uncommon tactic for Islamic State, but this is the first such mass shooting in Anbar province, where Sunni tribes such as Albu Nimr have labored to reinvigorate the so-called Awakening tribal councils whom the U.S. enlisted years ago to join in the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq.

The government has so far been slow in responding to Sunni tribes’ requests for more support and materiel, according to tribal leaders. Wednesday’s massacre is likely to amplify such complaints and Sunni distrust of Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government.

“We requested many times from the security commanders, the Iraqi government, and other security leaders to provide us with arms to fight Islamic State but nobody listened to us until what happened today,” said Sheik Ghazi Faisal Al-Gu’od, a member of parliament and an Albu Nimr leader.

Iraq’s government is helping Sunni tribal councils fight Islamic State forces in Anbar province. But many Sunni tribal fighters remain suspicious of the Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad, which they accuse of persecuting Sunnis.

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