The Islamic State (Isis) have beheaded five alleged spies in front of their families after they were accused of spying for Kurdish forces surrounding Raqqa, say reports. The city is the de-facto capital of the self-proclaimed Daesh (Isis) caliphate that bridges Syria and Iraq but is coming under pressure from the outside.
Sitting in the north east of Syria the jihadists overran the city in August 2013 but on 24 May the 30,000-strong US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) began approaching the city from the countryside to the north.
Despite a few setbacks the SDF, which comprises Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) with Arab, Christian and Turkmen militias, still controls some of the countryside after expelling IS factions. But with a large-scale operation likely to take place later this year IS-controlled Raqqa is becoming a highly suspicious, insular city.
According to reports by AhlulBayt, a Shia-aligned news agency, and not independently verified by the IBTimes UK, the victims were apprehended by the terror group in Tabqa on Saturday 9 July. They were found guilty of passing information to the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) by their internal Sharia Court and sentenced to public death.
The very next day the families of the five murdered men were forced to watch their loved ones get beheaded by an extremist wearing a baseball cap, black clothes and boots.
"They were publicly beheaded after the Sharia Court of Raqqa convicted them of spying for hostile YPG troops," a local source told the AhlulBayt news agency. "They were beheaded in front of a large crowd that included their family members," the source added.
The liberation of Raqqa, which is said to be the home of between 3,000 and 5,000 jihadists, is set to be a complicated task with the jihadists dug in for defence. An estimated 50,000 civilians are believed to still be inside Raqqa with nowhere to go and a number of secret tunnels have been dug around the city to aid the insurgents.
More recently, in a new photo report released by the extremists on Saturday (10 July), IS revealed pictures of them publicly beheading four al Shabaab football players in Raqqa. Football fans in the city used to flock to watch al Shabaab — which means "the youth" — play matches but four of their players were executed, reportedly after being accused of spying for the Kurdish YPG.