Islamic State has killed a Syrian poet and his adult son, whom they captured after a funeral and accused of apostasy, rights groups said.
Mohammad Bashir al-Aani had published three volumes of poems and was known for his lyrical style and opposition to the government of President Bashar al-Assad, the writers’ group PEN International said.
The poet, who was in his mid-fifties, and his son were seized by Isis fighters several months ago in their home town of Deir ez-Zor, where they had returned to bury Aani’s wife after she died in a Damascus hospital. They were held with around 100 others before being killed, local media and rights groups reported.
“We are shocked and deeply saddened by reports that Mohammad Bashir al-Aani and his son Elyas were murdered by the militant group Islamic State which had accused them of ‘apostasy’,” said Salil Tripathi, the chair of PEN International’s writers in prison committee.
“The deliberate murder of civilians during an armed conflict is a war crime and both those who commit them and those who order them must be brought to justice.”
The men were the latest cultural figures targeted by a group that has also killed journalists and a top archeologist.
Last August Isis militants beheaded a renowned antiquities scholar in Palmyra and hung his mutilated body on a column in a main square of the ancient city because he apparently refused to reveal where valuable artefacts had been moved for safekeeping.
Khaled al-Asaad, 82, had worked for more than 50 years as head of antiquities in Palmyra. He played a key role in evacuating ancient treasures before Isis took control, but refused to flee the city in the face of the militants’ advance.
The group has targeted journalists who oppose it, both inside and outside Syria. Ruqia Hassan, 30, who wrote about daily life in the Isis stronghold of Raqqa was killed last year after being accused of spying. ISIS is also thought to be behind the killing of the journalist Naji Jerf in the Turkish city of Gaziantep.