Second US jihadist reported killed
Islamic State extremists with a damaged Syrian government fighter following the capture of the Tabqa airbase in Raqqa. President Obama admitted last night that the US had no clear plan yet on how to deal with Islamic State. Photograph: AP
The US state department is investigating whether a second American from Minnesota has been killed fighting with the radical Sunni extremist group, the Islamic State (also known as Isis) .
The death, reported by US media citing family and friends of the American, follows the killing of Douglas McCain – an American who grew up in the Minneapolis area – in Syria at the weekend.
US news outlets named the second American as Abdirahmaan Muhumed (29), also from Minneapolis, saying he was killed in the same battle as Mr McCain when Islamic fighters attacked a Syrian opposition checkpoint near Aleppo.
The state department could not confirm the second man’s death. “We’re looking into it ,” said spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
Minneapolis is home to the largest populations of Somali emigrants in the US and has been an active recruitment ground for Islamic terrorists.
While Mr McCain was not of Somali origin, he had interacted with the community, according to his social media contacts.
Local media in Minnesota described Muhumed as a Somali-American, one of a handful who had travelled from the Minneapolis area to Syria to fight for the Islamic State, the militant group now in control of large parts of northern Iraq and Syria.
Fox News reported that Muhumed’s family had been sent a photo of his body in Syria but that the state department had not formally notified his relatives of his death.
Supporting insurgencyThe Obama administration has warned about the threat from fighters from the US and Europe supporting violent insurgents in Syria and returning to their home countries.
Meanwhile, a video posted on YouTube yesterday showed Islamic State fighters executing scores of Syrian soldiers who were captured when the militants seized an air base in the province of Raqqa at the weekend.
The video, confirmed as genuine by an Islamic State fighter, showed the bodies of dozens of men lying face down wearing nothing but their underwear. They were stretched out in a line that appeared to be dozens of metres long.
A separate pile of bodies was shown nearby. Reuters could not independently verify the authenticity of the video.
The caption beneath it said the dead numbered 250.
An Islamic State fighter in Raqqa told Reuters via the internet: “Yes, we have executed them all.”
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors violence in the war, put the death toll at more than 120.
Islamic State stormed Tabqa air base on Sunday after days of clashes with the army and said it had captured and killed soldiers and officers in one of the bloodiest confrontations yet between the two sides.
The capture of Tabqa, the Syrian army’s last foothold in that area, and apparent parading and killing of large numbers of its soldiers, shows how Islamic State has cemented its grip on the north of the country.
The video begins by showing the captives apparently being marched in the desert with their hands behind their heads and watched by armed men. An Islamic State fighter repeatedly shouts out “Islamic State”, to which the men reply “It shall remain”.
Islamic State controls roughly a third of Syria, mostly areas in the north and east of the country. The US has launched air strikes on the group over the border in Iraq and is considering doing the same in Syria.
The Assad government, which is shunned by the West, has presented itself as a partner in a war on Islamist extremists, but Washington says President Bashar al Assad is part of the problem.
French president François Hollande said yesterday that President Assad was no ally in the fight against Islamic State.
Islamic State targetsSyrian warplanes yesterday hit Islamic State targets in the eastern province of Deir al- Zor, another of its strongholds, in an air strike that killed some of the group’s commanders, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The observatory said the aircraft struck a building used as an Islamic State headquarters during a meeting of its commanders.
Syrian state TV reported that the army “eliminated more than 10 terrorists” in an attack east of Deir al-Zor military airport, including two men it named as Islamic State leaders in the province, and destroyed 14 armoured vehicles.
– (Additional reporting Reuters)