Gruesome ISIS Video Prompts Turkey to Restrict Internet

New video by Islamic State group purportedly shows two Turkish soldiers being burned alive in Syria.

A still image taken from a video released by Islamic State-affiliated Amaq news agency, said to be in Palmyra, on December 11, 2016,
A still image taken from a video released by Islamic State-affiliated Amaq news agency, said to be in Palmyra, on December 11, 2016, REUTERS TV/REUTERS

A monitoring organization says Turkey restricted access to social media websites after the Islamic State group released a video purportedly showing two Turkish soldiers being burned alive.

ISIS released the video late Thursday, which purports to show the killing of two soldiers captured while fighting the militants in or around the northern Syrian town of al-Bab last month.

Turkish officials have not commented on the video.

Turkey Blocks, an internet monitoring website, said it had detected the "throttling of Twitter and YouTube," affecting many users in Turkey.

Turkey frequently restricts access to social media websites to prevent the spread of graphic images and other material authorities say would harm public order or security.

Deadly al-Bab battle

Clashes between Turkish-backed Syrian rebels and Islamic State militants intensified around al-Bab on Wednesday, killing 14 Turkish soldiers and 138 jihadists. The fighting, in which 33 Turkish soldiers were also wounded, is some of the deadliest yet in Turkey's nearly four-month-old "Euphrates Shield" operation in northern Syria. 

The Turkish military had said earlier that the rebel forces, which have been launching attacks on Islamic State fighters in al-Bab for weeks, had largely established control over the strategic area around the town's hospital. 

"Once this area has been seized, Daesh's dominance of al-Bab will to a large extent be broken," it said, adding that Islamic State was using suicide bombers and vehicle-borne explosives intensively.

Turkey's military was pressing on with the operation after its foreign minister and his Russian and Iranian counterparts said in Moscow on Tuesday that they were ready to help broker a deal to end Syria's almost six-year-old war. 

The talks came as Syrian government forces neared their biggest victory in the conflict, closing in on the last rebel enclave in the long-embattled city of Aleppo. 

The military had said that some of the intensive fighting on Wednesday had been centered on a hospital area, on the slope of a hill overlooking al-Bab that had long been used by Islamic State as a weapons and ammunition store. Turkish air strikes on Wednesday destroyed 67 Islamic State targets, the military said.