Damascus – Islamic State (ISIS) extremists have publicly flogged a group of civilians in Damascus, Syria’s capital. Activists and eyewitnesses reported on Monday that the unfortunate men had been charged with smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol.
Members of the ISIS-controlled Islamic Police, also known as Diwan al-Hisba, arrested several people in the southern Yarmouk District as part of a new campaign to stamp out ‘vice.’
“The arrest campaign targeted smokers and alcohol drinkers,” local media activist Wassim Doughmush told ARA News. “At least seven people were punished in public for violating the Islamic State’s regulations.”
Eyewitnesses reported that ISIS militants flogged each arrested man with 50 lashes. “The group has also executed two men in Yarmouk on charges of selling cigarettes and alcohol,” Doughmush reported.
ISIS militants also publicly burned a pile of cigarette packs and smashed several alcohol bottles. An eyewitness told ARA News that hundreds of spectators had “witnessed the punishment in central Yarmouk.”
Invading Damascus, Imposing Sharia Law
Last week, the Islamic State threatened to invade Damascus and apply its puritanical interpretation of Sharia law throughout the capital. ISIS said that their invasion was imminent and vowed to strike at Syrian security forces and the armed opposition.
“Fighters of the Caliphate are preparing to enter the heart of al-Sham [Damascus],” the extremist group said in a statement.
ISIS has been in control of a residential block in southern Damascus since it drove out al-Qaeda-splinter group Jabhat Fateh al-Sham and allied rebel factions, in April 2015. Jahbat Fateh al-Sham was previously known as Jabhat al-Nusra.
Al-Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood is believed to be the Islamic State’s primary staging area. Their militants also control most of the nearby Yarmouk and Tadamun districts.
ISIS has accused the rebel groups in Damascus of working on behalf of Assad’s government and being apostates. “The time has come for the Caliphate’s fighters to take al-Sham [Damascus] from the infidels and their mercenaries,” the extremist group said.
Syrian journalist Mustafa Abde told ARA News that ISIS would likely try to open new fronts in southern Syria to direct attention from northern Iraq, where the group is hemorrhaging.
Abde argued that: “This announcement comes after the group started to lose ground in Iraq amid deteriorating morale among its militants. ISIS is seeking new so-called victories to regain its reputation as a strong organization.”
Reporting by: Laila Majadalawi and Sadruddin Kino | Source: ARA News
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