Syrian rebels filmed shooting Islamic State militants

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Jaysh al-Islam fighters in the eastern Damascus countryside (6 May 2015)Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Jaysh al-Islam fighters have been battling IS in the Ghouta agricultural belt around Damascus

A hardline Islamist rebel group in Syria has released a video showing its fighters shooting dead a group of alleged Islamic State (IS) militants.

Reversing the imagery of beheadings by the jihadist group, Jaysh al-Islam members wearing orange outfits are seen killing 18 men dressed in black.

The video says they are being shot in revenge for the recent beheading of three Jaysh al-Islam fighters.

The Saudi-backed group also accuses IS of being allied to Syria's government.

Eighteen months of fierce fighting between IS and rebel groups, who have denounced the jihadists' brutal tactics and mistreatment of civilian opposition supporters, have left thousands dead.

Led by the former imprisoned Salafist activist Zahran Alloush, Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) has been battling IS in the Ghouta agricultural belt around Damascus.

Sectarian language

The 20-minute video published on Jaysh al-Islam's website on Tuesday mimics those produced by IS to announce the killing of government soldiers and Western hostages.

It includes similarly sectarian language, with IS members accused of betraying their fellow Sunni Muslims and allying themselves with "enemy Shia" and "Nusayris", a derogatory term for the heterodox Alawite sect to which President Bashar al-Assad belongs.

But in a clear subversion, the alleged IS fighters dressed in black robes with black balaclavas are shown being marched in chains through the Syrian countryside by armed men wearing the orange clothes which IS captives have been forced to wear before their deaths.

The last part of the video shows the 18 men in black kneeling before their Jaysh al-Islam captors, who remove their balaclavas before shooting them in the head with rifles.

Analysts say the video marks a further escalation in the conflict between Syrian rebels and IS.

Last week, IS released a video that showed the beheading of 12 rebels, including at least three from Jaysh al-Islam and one from al-Nusra Front, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria.