MOSCOW, February 2 (Sputnik) - Propaganda photos released by a Syria-based section of the militant group show what appears to be rebranded United Nations humanitarian aid being distributed to people in need.
The media-savvy group's images show UN-labeled aid boxes papered over with IS flags and labeled 'zakat', a traditional form of Islamic charity for the poor.
The boxes, which contain rice, oil and other basic supplies, are part of a UN aid effort aimed at easing the suffering of millions of Syrian refugees and internally displaced persons affected by the Syrian civil war. Among the 12.2 million people believed to be internally displaced in Syria, 40 percent are believed to be located in territories under the control of the Islamic State or the Jabhat al-Nusra. Rashid Khalikov, UN Director of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told RIA Novosti in December that "of them, 212,000 people are practically trapped as they live in the seized regions and parties to the conflict cannot agree [on] the delivery of humanitarian cargo there."
The ODI noted the problematic nature of negotiating aid distribution with the jihadi militants: "although duty-bound to deliver aid impartially, based on need, there is a very real fear that working with IS will inadvertently benefit the group materially, confer on it undue legitimacy in the eyes of the Iraqi people and prolong the conflict and suffering."
Late last year, the Islamic State murdered aid workers Alan Henning, David Haines and Peter Kassig.