Crucifixion (illustration)
Crucifixion (illustration)Thinkstock

A top human rights group on Wednesday exposed the largely underreported atrocities being committed by Islamic State's (ISIS) affiliate in Libya, in the port city of Sirte that has been under their control.

Those abuses include beheading dozens of residents accused of being "spies" and "sorcerers," crucifying many others and flogging men for the "crimes" of smoking or listening to music, according to the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report as cited by Associated Press.

The "scenes of horror" described by witnesses who spoke to HRW date as far back as February 2015.

Libya has been in chaos for the past several years, with rival factions vying for control ever since the NATO-backed ouster of longtime dictator Muammar Qaddafi in 2011 as part of the "Arab Spring." ISIS has been gaining a hold in the North African state, even as its control in Syria and Iraq slowly dwindles.

HRW's report is based on interviews with 45 residents of Sirte that took place last March. The 45 Libyans were part of the two thirds of Sirte's 80,000 residents who fled after ISIS conquered the coastal city.

"While the world's attention is focused on atrocities in Syria and Iraq, ISIS is also getting away with murder in Libya," said Letta Tayler, a senior terrorism and counter-terror researcher at the New York-based human rights organization.

According to US military experts' estimates back in April ISIS has up to 6,000 terrorists in Libya, although local intelligence officials told HRW that those figures are actually below 2,000, and 70% of them are foreigners. Other Libyan security analysts reckon that there are 3,000 ISIS terrorists in the country.

HRW found that ISIS has doled out captured homes and goods to its terrorists in Sirte as a reward.

The report comes just a week after US officials said President Barack Obama's administration is ready to arm Libya by getting a UN ban on arms exports to the country lifted, so as to help the unity government fight ISIS.