IS claims beheading of Iraqi security personnel

Iraqi Kurdish forces hold a position near Al-Assal village, west of Kirkuk, on February 1, 2015, after retaking the area from Islamic State (IS) fighters (AFP Photo/Marwan Ibrahim)

Baghdad (AFP) - The Islamic State group beheaded an Iraqi police officer and two soldiers, the latest in a long series of atrocities committed by the jihadists, according to pictures posted online Sunday.

In one photo, a blindfolded man said to be a police lieutenant colonel kneels in a street in front of a row of gunmen.

A masked militant is then shown beheading the victim with a machete, after which his severed head is placed atop his body and the machete driven into his back.

Another photo shows an overweight masked militant apparently struggling to behead a man identified as a captured Iraqi soldier.

A second soldier was beheaded at the same location, according to another photo of the scene.

The authenticity of the photos could not be independently confirmed.

IS spearheaded a sweeping militant offensive in June that overran large areas north and west of Baghdad, and also holds significant territory in neighbouring Syria.

The brutal militant group has killed thousands of people in both countries, some of them in highly-choreographed videotaped sequences in which the victims are beheaded.

Iraqi security forces, backed by Kurdish troops, Shiite militias, Sunni tribesmen and a US-led campaign of air strikes, have managed to regain some ground from IS.

But the jihadists still control significant territory, including three major cities.