The Islamic State decided to take its own fighters and burn them alive after they fled Ramadi, following the city’s capture by Iraqi forces.
After the fighters fled Ramadi, ISIS dragged them into a town square, moved them into a circle formation and set them alight to let other fighters know that losing is not an option, Fox News reports.
If they didn’t know before, ISIS fighters now know that the only acceptable course of action is to fight to the death.
The burning took place 250 miles north of Ramadi in the city of Mosul. Ramadi, a major ISIS stronghold, was recently recaptured by Iraqi forces after a week of hard fighting with the help of U.S. air support.
ISIS first used Twitter to mock the idea that Ramadi had fallen to Iraqi forces and said that the takeover was exaggerated, but based on the fact that they’ve burned their own troops alive, they’ve clearly moved from snide remarks to retribution.
“The Iraqi forces entered the complex a few hours ago and did not face any opposition from ISIS,” Sajad Jiyad, an Iraq analyst, told The Financial Times when the city was retaken in December, following a seven-month ISIS occupation. “This shows that ISIS withdrew to the north-east of Ramadi.”
“This means that ISIS has fallen and its fighters have fled away from the complex,” Jaber Jaberi, a Sunni politician, also told The Financial Times.
The U.S. applauded Iraqi forces for the breakthrough. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford said that Ramadi’s capture means the Iraqi military now has the momentum to surge forward into other ISIS areas, though emphasized that the Iraqi military has not yet reached the turning point. U.S. officials have said that ISIS has lost 40 percent of its territory from last year.
The loss of Ramadi was a huge embarrassment for ISIS. Although the city is now in Iraqi hands, it remains largely abandoned, mostly because it’s full of landmines and devastated infrastructure.
Iraqi officials now have their sights set on Mosul, the exact city where ISIS is burning alive fighters who fled the Ramadi battle. ISIS took control of Mosul in 2014.
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