Middle East

Syria: at least 53 people killed while truffle hunting in suspected IS attack

At least 53 people were killed on Friday in an attack east of Homs in central Syria that was blamed on Islamic State, state media reported.

“Fifty-three citizens who were truffle hunting were killed during an attack by the terrorists of IS to the south-west of the town of Al-Sukhna,” state television said.

The director of Palmyra hospital, Walid Audi, said those killed were 46 civilians and seven soldiers.

IS has not claimed responsibility for the attack.

Some people managed to escape the attack, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported earlier on Friday.

Many people, including women and children, have been targeted in recent years while truffle hunting in central, north-eastern and eastern areas of Syria.

Sixteen people, mostly civilians, were killed on Saturday in a similar attack targeting foragers in the same area, the observatory said.

Dozens of others were reportedly kidnapped in the attack and 25 of them were released but the fate of the others remains unknown.

After the jihadists lost territory following a military onslaught backed by a US-led coalition in March 2019, IS remnants in Syria mostly retreated to hideouts in the desert.

They have since used such hideouts to ambush Kurdish-led forces and Syrian government troops while continuing to mount attacks in neighbouring Iraq.


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