At least 53 people were killed in an ambush in central Syria on Friday, according to state media. This is the deadliest jihadist attack in more than a year.
“Fifty-three civilians hunting truffles were killed in an attack by ISIS terrorists southwest of the city of Al-Sokhna” in the desert east of Homs, state television said.
Palmyra hospital director Walid Audi said the dead included 46 civilians and seven soldiers.
Audi told pro-government radio station Sham FM that their bodies had been “taken to hospital following the ambush” that targeted dozens.
Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights had also reported the attack earlier on Friday.
Separately on Friday, the US Central Command said four US servicemen were injured in a blast during a raid that killed a senior ISIS leader in Syria.
The ISIS leader, identified as Hamza al-Homsi, was killed while US troops and a working dog were being treated at a US medical facility in Iraq, it added.
Many people, including women and children, have been targeted in recent years during truffle hunting in central, northeastern and eastern areas of Syria.
Sixteen people, mostly civilians, were killed on Saturday in a similar attack targeting collectors in the same area, said the Observatory, which relies on a wide network of sources on the ground in Syria.
Dozens of others were kidnapped in the attack, the Observatory said, adding that 25 of them were released, but the fate of the others remains unknown.
In April 2021, the extremist group launched a similar attack, kidnapping 19 people, mostly civilians, in the eastern countryside of Hama province.
After the jihadists lost their last bit of territory following a military strike backed by a US-led coalition in March 2019, ISIS remnants in Syria largely retreated to desert hideouts.
They have since used such hideouts to ambush Kurdish-led forces and Syrian government forces as they continue their attacks in neighboring Iraq.
Syrian and Russian helicopters continue to carry out airstrikes on ISIS desert hideouts.
The United Nations has said that despite setbacks, the jihadist group has “maintained its ability to carry out attacks at a steady pace”.
It estimates the jihadist group maintains between 6,000 and 10,000 fighters in Iraq and Syria, exploiting the porous border between the two countries and focusing mainly on rural areas.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and is being published from a syndicated feed.)
Featured video of the day
Meet Swara Bhasker’s husband – Fahad Ahmad