The Islamic State group’s propaganda wing reportedly released a video Tuesday showing a group of blindfolded Kurdish hostages kneeling before a bushy-bearded militant wielding a knife. The ISIS militant, who appears to be wearing traditional Kurdish clothes, beheads one of the three hostages, said to be peshmerga fighters, after railing against Iraqi Kurdish officials, threatening to behead others.
“Do not think that you are far from our swords. Think and look what we have done in Europe, in Belgium, in Brussels,” the ISIS executioner says, speaking in Kurdish, ARA News reported.
The six-minute video comes as the Iraqi military, backed by U.S. forces, has stepped up an offensive to retake land from ISIS. The military has recently closed in on villages in Makhmour, a region deemed necessary to retake before expanding operations to drive extremists out of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, Rudaw reported. It also comes days after the Syrian military drove ISIS out of Palmyra, an ancient Syrian city that was captured last May.
Peshmerga forces, who represent Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region, have been at the forefront of the fight against ISIS. In previous videos, Kurdish fighters have also been beheaded by militants, including in a video in October that showed four peshmerga soldiers beheaded in Hawija. The city was the site of a joint U.S.-peshmerga raid that freed 70 Iraqi soldiers that were being held by ISIS. Kurdish officials said they were working to verify whether the man executed was indeed a member of their units.
— IraqEye (@IraqEye) March 30, 2016
In the video Tuesday, ISIS takes particular aim at Iraqi Kurdistan’s president, Masoud Barzani, for recent operations near Mosul. The video shows what it says are civilians hurt by Kurdish operations. Onlookers watch as the apparent ISIS member rants to the camera and executes the hostage.
“O Masoud, if you bomb the Muslims again, then the turn will be on those two. Answer me, which one would you like to slaughter? This one or this one?” the executioner asks.