On Jan. 12, ISIS reportedly burned its own fighters alive after the city of Ramadi was retaken Iraqi troops. A statement put out by U.S. military officials indicates that ISIS killed its fighters for fleeing Ramadi and returning to the group’s base at Mosul.
Iraqis from Mosul said they believe ISIS's brutal act was meant as a message to its other fighters who may soon have to defend the base, Fox News reports.
“They were grouped together and made to stand in a circle, and set on fire,” a former Iraqi resident said.
Terrorism and insurgency experts in the U.S. said they have acknowledged the use of this tactic by the group.
“There is no surprise on executing ISIS fighters from Ramadi. They did the same to fighters after Tikrit,” Michael Pregent, former advisor to Gen. David Patreaus, said.
The recapture of Ramadi by Iraqi forces was reportedly a major blow to ISIS. The city is roughly 80 miles west of Baghdad, and is one of the largest cities that ISIS controlled. The terrorist group captured the city in June 2014.
Pregent noted that he believes the terrorist group is resorting to brutal tactics due to its internal instability.
“ISIS is fracturing, paranoid from within,” he said.
Clint Watts, of the Foreign Policy Research Institute, agreed.
“They continue to lose territory, we’ve seen a growing number of defections and a rise in the number of alleged internal spies -- many of whom they have killed mercilessly without demonstrating significant evidence of internal espionage,” Watts said.
ISIS has continued to be beaten back by its opponents since losing Ramadi in Iraq, though it has since expanded into Libya.
On Feb. 29, Army Brig. Gen. Donald Bolduc, U.S. special operations forces commander in Africa, said that U.S. aid would be needed to combat the group’s gain of territory in the embattled North African state, reports The Wall Street Journal.