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ISIS-Linked Militants Reportedly Staged A Crucifixion In Libya

Details remain sparse after an uprising against the militants in Qaddafi's hometown of Sirte failed last week.

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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.

Mohamed Ben Khalifa / AP

Both sides in Libya's ongoing civil war — the Islamists known as Libyan Dawn who control Tripoli known and the "Operation Dignity" forces that support the internationally-recognized government — have been attacking the ISIS supporters, but to little avail.

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.

Mohamed El-shahed / AFP / Getty Images

The call was made in response to a request for help from the Libyan government issued on Saturday. "The Libyan government, unable to ward off these terrorist groups because of the arms embargo, and out of its historic responsibility toward its people, calls on brotherly Arab countries ... to launch airstrikes against specific targets of [ISIS] locations in Sirte in coordination with our concerned bodies," the request read.

Egypt bombed ISIS positions in Libya following the death of several Coptic Christians at the militants' hands in February, but the two sides in the civil war have previously balked at the thought of further direct intervention.

Hayes Brown is a world news editor and reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

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