at least 53 killed while truffle hunting in syria attack blamed on isil state media
Last updated on February 20th, 2023 at 06:04 am
At least 53 people were killed Friday in an attack in war-torn Syria’s central desert province of Homs – controlled by the Syrian government and its allies – state media reported, blaming the killings on Islamic State.
Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, if confirmed that ISIL (ISIS) was responsible, it would be considered the deadliest by the militant Islamist group since January 2022 when its fighters attacked a prison in northeast Syria in a bid to free fellow ISIL members.
In the latest attack, the bodies of the victims had gunshot wounds to the head, state news agency SANA reported, quoting the head of the Palmyra state hospital.
Walid Audi, director of the hospital, said the victims included 46 civilians and seven soldiers. Five other people wounded in the attack were transferred to another hospital.
ISIL fighters had burned their cars, SANA cited one of the survivors as saying.
A number of Syrians, including women and children, have been targeted in recent years while truffle hunting. Even the victims in the latest attack were gathering desert truffles when they were attacked, according to state media.
Syrian government troops are spread thin across the war-ravaged country. In order to maintain control over territory, they, therefore, need to rely heavily on their allies – such as Iran and the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah.
The Islamic State once controlled vast swathes of territory in Syria. Although it was driven from its last piece of territory in 2019, the United Nations has constantly raised warnings about the group remaining a persistent threat.