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US Airstrikes Said to Kill Two Islamic State Sharia Court Judges in Syria

A monitoring group says US-led coalition airstrikes killed two judges that presided over a court in the Islamic State’s de facto capital city of Raqqa.

by VICE News
Sep 5 2015, 3:35pm

Photo via US Navy/Reuters

US-led coalition airstrikes killed two judges that presided over a Sharia court in the so-called Islamic State's (IS) de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria, a monitoring group said on Saturday. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said one judge was from Iraq and the other from an unnamed Gulf country.

On Friday, the Department of Defense reported two airstrikes in Raqqa, one that struck an IS "tactical unit," and another that destroyed two IS vehicles. Centcom confirmed to VICE News that coalition airstrikes hit Raqqa on Friday, but said the results were "inconclusive."

While filming the documentary The Islamic State, VICE News visited Sharia courts in Raqqa, where the accused are often subject to severe penalties such as execution and public crucifixion. In addition to dealing with crime, the IS courts handle all manner of complaints from citizens, including family disputes.

Watch the VICE News documentary The Islamic State

Separate coalition airstrikes in northern Syria on Friday struck two IS tactical units and destroyed an IS staging area, as renewed fighting raged in an area where the US and Turkey are planning to open a new front against the militant group.

At least 47 fighters were killed in clashes between IS and rival Syrian rebels around the rebel-held town of Marea, 12 miles from the Turkish border, the Observatory said.

The area falls within a "safe zone" that Turkey said last month it would set up in northern Syria to help keep IS at bay.

IS said late Friday that it had waged a fresh assault on Marea, killing "dozens" of Syrian rebels in the battle. The militants encircled Marea last week, taking several villages around the town, in a blow to rebels who are likely partners for Ankara and Washington in any ground campaign.

Related: Islamic State Claims to Mint Gold Coins in Effort to Drive US to Financial Ruin

A loss of Marea would make it harder for Turkey and the United States to open a new front against IS.

Western-backed rebels have sent in reinforcements from other parts of Aleppo province to try to beat back the jihadists, according to a rebel fighter.

IS holds large swathes of territory across Syria and Iraq, and has advanced in other areas of Syria in recent months. It is fighting rival insurgents, the Syrian military, and Kurdish regional forces alike in Syria's four-year-old civil war.

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Reuters contributed to this report.