Satellite images evidence of ISIS mass execution, rights group claims

Photograph and satellite imagery indicate that Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) insurgents have carried out mass executions in the northern Iraqi city of Tikrit, Human Rights Watch reported today. ISIS has stormed largely unopposed across much of northern Iraq, taking cities including Mosul and Tikrit, seizing border posts with Syria and advancing to within some 100 km (62 miles) of the capital Baghdad. New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said that between 160 and 190 men were killed in at least two locations in and around Tikrit - the hometown of late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein - between June 11 and 14.

The photos and satellite images from Tikrit provide strong evidence of a horrible war crime that needs further investigation.

Human Rights Watch emergencies director Peter Bouckaert

HRW said that the death toll could be much higher but the difficulty of locating bodies and getting to the area had prevented a full investigation. Pictures posted on HRW’s website showed a row of men lined up face-down in trenches being shot by gunmen. It said ISIS posted about 60 photographs on its Twitter feed on June 14, showing fighters loading captives in civilian clothes onto trucks and then forcing them to lie in three shallow trenches. HRW counted the bodies visible in the available photographs, and estimated that ISIS killed between 90 and 110 men in one trench and between 35 and 40 men in the second.

They and other abusive forces should know that the eyes of Iraqis and the world are watching.

Peter Bouckaert, HRW director