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'Scenes of horror' in Sirte as IS executes dozens Open in fullscreen

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'Scenes of horror' in Sirte as IS executes dozens

Libya has been in chaos since the 2011 uprising that toppled dictator Moammar Gaddafi [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 May, 2016

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Thousands of Libyan locals living in the Islamic State-controlled city of Sirte have suffered severe hardship at the hands of the militants, a new Human Rights Watch report has revealed.
Islamic State militants "unlawfully" executed dozens of people in Libya's Sirte, an international human rights organisation claimed on Wednesday.

The group's Libya-affiliate inflicted "severe hardship" on the people of Sirte, killing 49 people by decapitation and shooting others for several crimes including blasphemy, sorcery and spying, the Human Rights Watch report said.

Militants who had controlled the port city since February 2015 deprived locals of food, medicine, fuel and cash, the 41-page report notes.

"The Sirte residents described scenes of horror – public beheadings, corpses in orange jumpsuits hanging from scaffolding in what they termed 'crucifixions' and masked fighters snatching men from their beds in the night," it said.

"They said morality police aided by informants patrolled the streets, threatening, fining or flogging men for smoking, listening to music, or failing to ensure their wives and sisters were covered in loose black abayas (robes)."

The Sirte residents described scenes of horror – public beheadings, corpses in orange jumpsuits hanging from scaffolding in what they termed 'crucifixions' and masked fighters snatching men from their beds in the night

Missing locals, many of whom were Libyan militia fighters, were also said to be kidnapped by IS, HRW states, citing exiled councillors and fighters from groups opposed to it.

Last year, IS seized the coastal city of Sirte and transformed it into a training camp for militants that could be used to launch attacks on Europe, leaders fear. 

On Monday, a 25-member group, including the United States, Italy and other Libyan allies agreed to arm the war-torn country's newly-established unity government to fight the Islamic State threat. 

"The United States stands ready to provide humanitarian, economic and security support to the new Libyan government on their request," US Secretary of State John Kerry said.

European leaders – who are concerned about the rise of the Islamic State on their doorstep – assured Libyan authorities of their readiness "to respond to the Libyan government's requests for training and equipping the Presidential Guard and vetted forces throughout Libya," they said in a joint statement.

"The murder of civilians, or wounded or captive fighters, by members of a party to an armed conflict is a war crime, as is executing people without a fair trial by a regular court," said HRW.

"The nature and scale of Islamic State's unlawful executions and other acts in Libya also may amount to crimes against humanity."

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