BEIRUT – Islamic militants have crushed a tribal uprising against their rule in eastern Syria after three days of clashes in a string of villages near the border with Iraq, killing and beheading opponents along the way, activists said Monday.
The fighters from the al-Qaida breakaway Islamic State group control huge swaths of territory in eastern and northern Syria and are fighting rival rebels, Kurdish militias and the Syrian army for more territory.
Meanwhile, at least 10 people including four children and two women were killed Monday when Syrian forces dropped explosives-filled barrels from a helicopter over the Bab Nayrab district of Aleppo in northern Syria, activists said. Many others were buried under the rubble of buildings, they said.
The Syrian army regularly drops the so-called barrel bombs over populated areas in rebel-held territory. Aleppo, once Syria’s commercial capital, has seen heavy fighting since rebels seized part of the city in 2012.
The civil war in Syria, now in its fourth year, has continued to bleed while attention has shifted to conflicts in Gaza and Iraq. The Islamic State group, which consists mainly of foreign fighters, has taken over much of northern and eastern Syria as well as western and northern Iraq.
The group has declared a self-styled caliphate in territory it controls along the Iraqi-Syrian border, imposing a harsh interpretation of Islamic law.
The armed revolt by the Shueitat tribe in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour was the first sign of local resistance by tribesmen to the Islamic State group since its fighters swept into the province.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and Turkey-based activist Thaer al-Deiri said Monday that Islamic State group fighters regained control of three villages from the Shueitat tribe after being expelled earlier this month.
The Observatory said Islamic State fighters beheaded two tribesmen after they fled to the nearby village of Shaafa. It had no immediate word on other casualties in the area.