ISIS is reportedly executing people in eastern Syria, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said on Wednesday, expressing deep concern over the fate of civilians still trapped under the militant group.
Deir Ezzor’s Hajin area is the last significant remnant of the so-called caliphate ISIS proclaimed in 2014. The rest has been lost to offensives launched by different factions in both Syria and Iraq.
7,000 civilians are trapped between ISIS fighters preventing them from leaving the area and air strikes by the US-led coalition, Michelle Bachelet, told a news conference in Geneva.
"We also have reports of ISIS executing people perceived as cooperating with SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) or other parties to the conflict," she said, adding that civilians were being used as "pawns and bargaining chips" in the conflict.
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The SDF, a Kurdish-led alliance, has been battling to oust ISIS from the area near the Iraqi border since September.
More than 452 SDF fighters and about 739 ISIS militants have been killed since, according the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Hundreds of civilians trapped in Hajin, many of whom are wives and children of ISIS fighters, have also been killed by SDF attacks and airstrikes by the US coalition.
Analysts have warned that fully eradicating the militants from those desert hideouts where the state has a very limited footprint could prove almost impossible.
Earlier this month, the SOHR claimed that the US coalition killed more than 40 people in Deir Ezzor over a span of three days.
Wednesday's comments by the UN comes days after the coalition said it killed an ISIS militant involved in the November 2014 beheading of Peter Kassig, a former US ranger who was doing volunteer humanitarian work in Syria when captured in 2013.