Islamists fighters from the Al Qaeda-linked Al-Nusra Front have executed at least 56 Syrian government soldiers from the Abu al-Duhur airbase in the north-west of the country which was captured earlier this month, according to human rights activists.

The mass execution took place at the military airfield in Idlib province a “few days ago,” according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which managed to confirm the brutal massacre after jihadists dispersed photos of it online.

“We confirmed it yesterday in the evening, via people who witnessed it, and via some pictures that arrived – the execution happened,” SOHR’s director, Rami Abdulrahman, told Reuters.

The airbase fell to Islamist fighters earlier this month following a two-year siege. Abu al-Duhur military airport was the last major facility controlled by government forces in Idlib province.

Al Nusra Front Syria

The government troops were forced to withdraw from their positions after a furious attack by a coalition of Islamists groups which moved in to encircle the base under the cover of a sandstorm. The conditions meant that Syria’s air force could not provide support.

According to the SOHR, at least 71 Syrian soldiers have been killed at Abu al-Duhur since its capture, with executions reportedly beingcarried out by members of the terrorist Al-Nusra Front and the Turkistan Islamic Party.

The Al-Nusra Front was born in late 2011 and soon rose to become one of the dominant forces fighting government forces in Syria. While having supply-chain link with Al Qaeda, the organization has also allegedly received arms supplies and funds from foreign donors.

Syria Al Nusra Front

Al-Nusra’s fighting campaign earned the terrorist group respect and affiliation with other anti-government forces on the ground, including the Free Syrian Army (FSA), part of the so-called moderate opposition which the US and its allies support and train.

The United States designated the Al-Nusra Front to be a terrorist organization in December 2012. But besides being deemed a terrorist threat, world headlines throughout the course of the four-year-long war have on numerous occasions reported that Islamists were fighting side-by-side with groups backed by the United States.

Al Nusra Syria airport