Prisoners held by an al-Qaeda-linked rebel group that controls large areas of northern Syria have been subjected to systematic torture and summary executions, Amnesty International charged Thursday.
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) runs a string of prisons in the northern provinces of Aleppo and al-Raqqa where detainees have undergone flogging and other forms of abuse, Amnesty wrote in a report based on interviews with people who had been held by the extremist group, dpa reported.
Former detainees told Amnesty of being: held for unknown reasons; handcuffed in painful positions for long periods; and beaten by members of the group.
Some said they had witnessed trials in the group's sharia (Islamic law) courts, in which death sentences were handed down to persons accused of crimes such as fighting against ISIL or of committing adultery.
"After years in which they were prey to the brutality of the al-Assad regime, the people of al-Raqqa and Aleppo are now suffering under a new form of tyranny imposed on them by [ISIL], in which arbitrary detention, torture and executions have become the order of the day," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and North Africa.
The rights group called on ISIL to "end its appalling treatment of detainees" and asked the international community "to take concrete steps to block the flow of arms and other support to [ISIL] and other armed groups implicated in committing war crimes and other serious human rights abuses."
"The Turkish government, in particular, should prevent its territory being used by [ISIL] to bring in arms and recruits to Syria," said Luther.
ISIL was established by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq, who sent fighters to Syria to join the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.
The militants initially fought under the name of the radical al-Nusra Front. However, in April, al-Baghdadi announced that the two formations were merging as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
Al-Nusra's leader, Abu Mohammed al-Jaulani, objected and won the support of al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Nonetheless, many of al-Jaulani fighters appear to have decided not to back him and are now working with ISIL.