Islamic State militants released a disturbing video over the weekend in which several of its fighters are showing cutting off the heads of eight men who were led to their execution by teenage boys.
The eight men, described as Shiite Muslims, were killed in the central Syrian province of Hama, the Daily Mail reported. While the video has not yet been verified, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said it appears to be authentic.
In the video, which was posted on ISIS-linked Twitter accounts, the hostages are led in a field by teenage boys before being handed over to the jihadist group. In one instance, a boy wearing a black uniform is showing handing out knives to the fighters before the hostages, who were blinded folded, are killed.
While the victim's identities have not yet been released, one of the hostages appears to be Younes Hujairi, who was kidnapped from his hometown of Arsal near the Syrian border in January, the AFP reports.
In the video, a jihadist is shown calling the hostages "impure infidels" and saying the military campaign against the Islamic State will only strengthen the group.
"Our swords will soon, God willing, reach ... allies like Bashar and his party," the man said in reference to Syrian President Bashar Assad and Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group that is fighting on his side.
Since overtaking large swaths of Iraq and Syria last year, the Islamic State has carried out numerous executions, usually by beheading or stoning.
Last week, the the group publicly beheaded three young men, all in their late 20's, after accusing them of being the nephews of a political opponent. According to the NYTimes report, the three were killed in public circle of Mosul, Iraq after a false rumor got out that their uncle had met with the Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani.
Less than a week earlier, a video was released by the group showing the beheading of three Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters
The jihadist group also frequently uses children to further their aims; last week, the Observatory for Human Rights revealed that the militant group had recruited at least 400 children in Syria in the past three months for jihadist training and indoctrination. "They use children because it is easy to brainwash them. They can build these children into what they want, they stop them from going to school and send them to IS schools instead," said Rami Abdulrahman, head of the British group.
In the past, ISIS has promoted videos of young boys training as fighters, some of them wearing the militants' black masks, holding bullets and waving the group's flags.
"The extremist group has specifically recruited children through free schooling campaigns that include weapons training and have given them dangerous tasks, including suicide bombing missions," said a report from Human Rights Watch.
Meanwhile, in Iraq, security forces continued to fight Islamic State militants in Tikrit on Sunday with air support from the U.S. and its allies, Reuters reported.
However, Tikrit Mayor Osama al-Tikriti warned that retaking the city would be slow. "A rapid advance in a city where the ground is littered with bombs and booby-traps is too tough to achieve," he told Reuters.