Reports out of Syria today say that a mass execution took place in the town of Badiat al-Mayadin, an ISIS-held town in the Deir Ezzor Province of Syria, with ISIS forces executing 33 people aged between 18 and 25. It is as yet unknown who the victims were or why they were executed.
ISIS regularly executes people in its territory, whether captured soldiers, people violating their stringent religious rules, or simply people who they believe are a security risk in some pending military operation. This makes it difficult to single out why they’re executing people in any specific case, though this was an unusually large incident, the largest single execution of 2017.
Deir Ezzor Province is almost exclusively held by ISIS forces, the last territory anywhere that this is true of. With US-backed forces advancing on Raqqa, it is expected that a lot of ISIS leadership operations will be moved into Deir Ezzor.
This may suggest the executions are part of a purge intended to secure the area around the city of al-Mayadin, which would be an increasingly important stronghold for ISIS forces if Raqqa does fall. Until ISIS issues its own statement, however, it is only speculation why the executions happened.