ISIS kidnaps at least 25 ex-Ba'ath officials
ISIS took over control of Mosul in early June this year (File Archive/AFP)
At least 25 ex-military leaders of Saddam Hussein's banned Baath party have been kidnapped by ISIS militants in Iraq this week, according to Reuters.
Residents and relatives of the top ex-military officials told media outlets that jihadist militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) have been seizing the ex-Baathist leaders from their homes in what has been described as a move to force them into swearing allegiance to ISIS' newly declared caliphate.
Estimates on how many ex-officials have been seized range from 25-60, according to the Reuters report.
"ISIS called on their friends who are ex-Baathists to cooperate and they did. And now ISIS is kicking them out. Some will pledge allegiance. Those they don't believe will pledge allegiance, they will execute," said Shiite parliamentarian Haidar Abadi.
Many Sunni groups who have been marginalized under Maliki's government, supported the militant offensive in some ways last month, but ISIS' declaration of a caliphate and some of their fighting tactics have discouraged many groups from continuing their support of the offensive.
An Iraqi national intelligence officer who confirmed the militants' seize of the ex-officers said that ISIS' motive was "to panic people, or as revenge, or in the event that they would cooperate with the Iraqi government."
ISIS has seized control of territory in at least five of Iraq's provinces as well as a key Syria-Iraq border crossing.
In late June, ISIS declared that it had established a caliphate that includes territory it controls in both Syria and Iraq.
Some Iraqis have joined the jihadist group since it expanded its power throughout Iraq over the past month, with some 2,000 residents from the city of Mosul alone joining ISIS after the group seized control of the city June 9.
Others, however, have resisted-and rejected-the new caliphate, prompting ISIS in part perhaps to seize ex-Baathist party officers as a tactic to mitigate public opposition, reported some of Reuters sources.