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Majority of IS civilian victims in Syria are reportedly Sunnis

IS executed 1,429 people in Syria in five months, says monitoring group
Men fish in a river in the eastern Syrian town of Deir Ezzor on 21 February, 2104 (AFP)

The Islamic State group (IS) has executed nearly 1,500 people in Syria in the past five months, the majority of whom were Sunni civilians, a monitoring group said Monday.

"The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has documented the execution of 1,429 people since the IS announced its 'caliphate' in June," the group's director, Rami Abdel Rahman, said.

The majority of IS's victims in Syria have been civilians, he said.

"Of the total number of people beheaded or shot dead in mass killings by IS, 879 have been civilians, some 700 of them members of the Shaitat tribe."

The Sunni Muslim Shaitat tribe, from the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, rose up against the group in mid-2014.

Another 63 of the dead were members of other rebel groups including the Al-Nusra Front, which has fought IS in the north and east, Abdel Rahman said.

"Another 483 were regime soldiers, while four others were IS members" accused of corruption or other alleged offences, Abdel Rahman said.

Ghassan Ibrahim, a London-based Syrian commentator who is critical of the government of President Bashar al-Assad, told MEE that IS militants are primarily concerned with fighting Syrian rebel groups.

"The regime casualties at the hands of IS militants are not the result of a consistent policy by the group," said Ibrahim.

"IS's clashes with regime forces are infrequent and are usually over capturing energy resourceful areas," he added, noting that "despite this, the regime often buys oil from IS."

Syria refugees need help as winter looms

Meanwhile, Syrians forced by nearly four years of war to flee their homes are in desperate need of more aid as winter approaches, a humanitarian group warned on Monday.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said the enormous numbers of Syrians displaced by the war faced plummeting temperatures and heavy rains.

"Vulnerable communities and families without adequate shelter, living in damaged or incomplete buildings, are struggling to prepare for the expected low temperatures in Syria and neighbouring countries," it said in a statement.

More than half of Syria's population has been forced to flee their homes since the conflict began in March 2011.

Some 3.2 million have fled beyond the country's borders, and more than 7.2 million have become internally displaced, according to the United Nations.

In its statement, the IFRC urged donors to act quickly in order to help the displaced and refugees.

"From the past experience, we know that getting support to communities on time is vital. Delays now could mean the aid doesn't arrive when the temperatures drop," said Michael Higginson, head of the IFRC's crisis team for Syria.

In past years, countless Syrian refugees and displaced families have had to face snowstorms with little more than a flimsy tents to protect themselves.

The group said it hoped to distribute 50,000 cold-weather kits inside Syria, each containing mattresses and thermal blankets, but needed five million Swiss francs ($5.2 million) to fund them.

Syria's war began as a pro-democracy movement, but later evolved into a savage civil war after the government unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent.

The United Nations has described Syria's war as "the worst humanitarian crisis of the 21st century".

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