WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
By Victoria Craw
A "flying carpet" designed to inflict permanent spinal injuries and huge metal pliers known as the "biter" are among seven common torture devices used by the Islamic State to maintain its brutal hold over civilians in Syria.
The terrorist group also uses the horrific "ghost" to suspend handcuffed victims from the ceiling while lashing their bare feet with hoses or industrial cables, according to a new report from the International Centre for the Study of Violent Extremism.
The 18-month investigation is based on first-hand accounts of Islamic State brutality from 72 people including civilians and defectors from the group.
They spoke of the "tire" or "German chair" being used to expose a victim to lashing, or "fuel" where a person is doused in oil and threatened with being set on fire unless they confess to "crimes" that can be as minor as wearing a perfumed soap.
One woman told researchers how she saw the morality police - known as the hisbah - place the severed head of a young man inside a cage a woman was being held in.
"I looked away. I did not want to see the head," she said. "The [the unconscious detainee] woke up and pushed herself to the end corner of the small cage, as far as she could from the head. She kept looking around and breathing heavily ... She turned it towards her so she can see the face."
"Once she saw the face she started howling. She howled so loudly and for too long. She kept slapping her face as she wailed. I thought she knew him. They came the next day and took the head away. One of the hisbah women told us that the head belongs to the woman's infidel brother. The woman did not eat or speak a word for 2 days after," she said.
The shocking report by Asaad Almohammad, Anne Speckhard and Ahmet S. Yayla, is perhaps the most detailed account of the arrest, interrogation and detention process for captives. Victims reveal how they were ambushed in public, at work or at a checkpoint patrolled by militants.
One man told how he was blindfolded and driven for an hour before being taken to a detention centre just five minutes from his office. Another woman told how she was tortured with "the biter" after failing to wash off a perfumed soap properly when she left her house in a hurry.
"I told her I had cancer. She told me that she will make the other side look the same," she told researchers about her breasts where the instrument was used.
"She asked me whether I heard of the biter. I just cried. When she bit me with it I screamed so that maybe all the people in Raqqa heard me. They [ISIS] tortured us, killed us, made us immigrants; may Allah avenge for what they did to us."
The reports includes a "chilling portrayal" of the IS prison system, departments and location from which the various military and morality police, raid squads and intelligence services operate. A chart shows crimes and punishment to be meted out including 80 lashes for a sip of alcohol of stoning for sex out of wedlock.
Those interviewed were found to be suffering from severe psychological and post-traumatic stress that suggests an under-reported problem that could affect and entire generation. People spoke of seeing things they had "never seen before" as they watched others suffer. A woman told of her husband "staring at the television for hours without saying a word" after being released.
Islamic State has steadily been losing ground to US-led coalition forces and the Iraqi army in a bid to stamp out the terror group. The authors report since July 2016 the terror group has "abandoned" their policy of trying to win hearts "in favour of intimidation tactics" and is increasingly desperate for financial resources.
More than 330,000 Syrians have been killed so far with millions displaced since 2011 when the bloody civil war erupted. Neighbouring states like Turkey and Jordan are hosting millions of refugees with their numbers growing by the day as IS territory remains under pressure.
Tens of thousands have recently taken refuge in camps near Raqqa - the defacto capital for the group. However the International Committee of the Red Cross spokeswoman, Ingy Sedky, said camps hosting up to 10,000 people remain woefully under-equipped with lack of access to basic shelter, food and medicine.
"These tents are literally in the middle of the desert. You have snakes and scorpions that are a daily threat for people," she told AFP.
"Fifty per cent of the people inside these camps are children. They are living in terrible, terrible conditions because of the heat. It can be 50 degrees (Celsius, 122 Fahrenheit) during the day."
"Most of the camps don't have doctors on site ... They don't even have bandages, even the simplest things are not available."
"The first priority is water. It is essential that people have clean water, because you can see already this is creating a lot of diseases" including chronic diarrhoea, she said.