(NEWSER) – Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria say they've slaughtered 1,700 Iraqi soldiers in Tikrit, a massacre that, if confirmed, would be by far the largest atrocity in the country in more than a decade. The militants released photos late Saturday showing the soldiers being led to trenches and then face-down in them before and after their execution. Sources tell the BBC that captured soldiers were divided into ordinary conscripts, who were freed, and volunteers from Shia militias, who were massacred. But some Iraqi officials and human rights groups are casting doubt on the number of dead, the New York Times reports. "I would have thought there would have been leverage in keeping those prisoners alive," aGuardian correspondent says. "My suspicion is that they remain alive but in desperate peril."

  • The photos, uploaded to an ISIS Twitter account, show what could be as many as seven massacre sites, though the Times notes they could also be various angles of fewer sites. No individual photo depicts more than 60 victims.
  • The captions are particularly inflammatory, notes theTimes. A sampling: "The filthy Shiites are killed in the hundreds," and "The liquidation of the Shiites who ran away from their military bases."

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