BEIRUT – The mother of a Lebanese soldier held captive by the militant Islamic State group said photographs posted online Saturday purporting to show his beheading appeared to be real.
Zeinab Noun said her 20-year-old son, Abbas Medlej, was “sacrificed” after supporters of the militant group posted images appearing to show a captured Lebanese soldier before and after he was beheaded.
Syrian airstrikes on Islamic State stronghold kill 25 militants, civilians
“My son was sacrificed,” said Noun, clutching a passport-sized photo of her son, a handsome, smooth-faced young man.
Medlej’s maternal uncle, Abu Ali Noun, also said the photographs appeared to be of his nephew. A spokesman for Lebanon’s military said it was still investigating the incident.
READ MORE: Steven Sotloff’s family speaks out on death of their son
Medlej would be the second captive Lebanese soldier killed by the Islamic State group, underscoring the grave challenges that face the ill-equipped Lebanese military as it fends off an unprecedented jihadi threat from Syria-based militants.
Around two dozen more members of the country’s security forces remain held captive by militants. They were seized in August when several groups, including the Islamic State group and Nusra Front, overran a Lebanese border town, killing and kidnapping soldiers and policemen in the most serious spillover yet of the neighbouring civil war.
Families of the captive soldiers have blocked highways and held demonstrations to pressure the Lebanese government to negotiate with the militants.
Local media had reported that negotiations were underway, with the militants demanding cash and the release of Islamists being held in Lebanese detention. A statement posted by supporters of the Islamic State said Medlej was killed after he tried to escape.
Medlej hailed from a large Shiite clan from the eastern Lebanese city of Baalbak.
READ MORE: State Department counters Islamic State propaganda on YouTube, 广州蒲友
His mother vowed revenge on rival Sunnis.
“We have to take our revenge from those apostates,” she said.
The captured soldiers and police are from Lebanon’s many religious sects: the first soldier beheaded by the group, Ali Sayid, was a Sunni Muslim. The militants are also holding Christian soldiers and other Sunni Muslims.
The Islamic State group has drawn global attention particularly since June, when it swept through northern and western Iraq from its stronghold in neighbouring Syria.
It follows an ultra-conservative, violent interpretation of Islam and is accused by rights groups and the United Nations of committing war crimes, including the mass killings of soldiers, Shiite Muslims and followers of the ancient Yazidi faith in Iraq. It has also beheaded two U.S. freelance journalists who were held captive, Steven Sotloff and James Foley.
A video of Sotloff’s killing was posted on online networks on Tuesday. On Saturday, the United Nations Security Council issued a statement condemning his murder.
“This crime is, yet again, a tragic reminder of the increasing dangers journalists face every day in Syria. It also once again demonstrates the brutality of ISIL, which is responsible for thousands of abuses against the Syrian and Iraqi people,” the statement said.
Last week, the U.N.’s Nations’ top human rights body approved a request by Iraq to open an investigation into suspected crimes committed by the Islamic State group against civilians in its country. Its aim would be to provide the Human Rights Council with evidence on atrocities committed in Iraq, which could be used as part of any international war crimes prosecution.