Islamist militants live tweet amputation of alleged thief's hand

Islamist militants trying to enforce their strict religious code in rebel-held areas of Syria have cut off the hand of an alleged thief in Aleppo province, jihadi social media said on Friday.

The militants even live-tweeted the horrific event.

Photos of the public event were posted on Twitter by several jihadi accounts, including "Jehad News".

It said the thief in the northern town of Maskanah had admitted his crimes "and asked that his hand be cut off to cleanse his sins", Reuters reported.

It was not immediately possible to verify the authenticity of these accounts.

One photo shows a blindfolded man with his hand being held on a table while several militants watch, one with a large knife, The Washington Post reported.

Fighters gather around him, some taking photos on their phones.

Some of the people in the image appear to be children.

Most notable is a masked man who is standing nearby, clenching a long sword.

A second photo shows the thief wincing as the sword comes barrelling down onto his hand. There is a third - and more gruesome - photo.

A Twitter account which posted photos of the gruesome amputation has since been suspended.

The punishment was inflicted by the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, (ISIL) comprising mainly foreign fighters.

It is an Al-Qaeda offshoot which is widely considered the most radical of the groups fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

It is also engaged in a violent struggle with rival Islamist rebels. ISIL controls much of rebel-held Syria in the north. It has also established bans on smoking, music and other behaviour they believe are un-Islamic.

The tactics have drawn the ire of even mainstream Al-Qaeda, which issued a statement in January cutting off all ties with the group.

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