Militants tied to ISIS reportedly crucified four or five people as punishment for an uprising against their growing control of the Libyan city of Sirte last week, a researcher with Human Rights Watch told BuzzFeed News.
The coastal city was once the favored hometown of Libyan ruler Moamar Qaddafi. Since earlier this year, it's been under siege from militants who have pledged themselves to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and his self-declared caliphate.
Residents of Sitre's Area Three reportedly rose up against the ISIS-aligned fighters within their town on Aug. 12 after the death of a prominent cleric opposed to their brutality.
Faced with an insurrection, the militants put it down brutally, according to reports that have made it out of Sirte. The United States — along with Germany, Italy, France, Spain, and the United Kingdom — condemned "reports that these fighters have shelled densely populated parts of the city and committed indiscriminate acts of violence to terrorize the Libyan population."
"The people in Sirte are angry — they are boiling," one Sirte resident told VICE News. "[ISIS is] are blowing up homes of wanted people. They've got a list of people they want to kill." VICE's report suggested as many as 40 people were killed in the backlash, though that number remains unconfirmed.
"All sorts of figures are being mentioned but the fact is we've only been able to confirm that there were two children who died," Hanan Salah, a Libya researcher with Human Rights Watch, told BuzzFeed News. "We just haven't been able to reach the families and everyone else to confirm that."
Salah said that following the uprising's end on Friday, ISIS showed its displeasure by crucifying 4 or 5 people, though it was unconfirmed whether they were dead before the crucifixions occurred. It is also unclear whether they were civilians or had taken up arms against ISIS.
"We don't know if this was the result of summary executions and they were killed as prisoners or if [ISIS] took random bodies and crucified them," Salah continued. "We just don't have that level of detail. There's no confirmation of any other executions or killings for now of residents."
The Arab League on Tuesday called for an "Arab strategy" to be executed against ISIS in Libya, but no details were given about what any military mission would look like.
Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
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