ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 138

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Islamic State kills 11 in central Syria gun attack, says monitor

10 civilians and a Syrian soldier are killed as gunmen attack group collecting truffles, says UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights; state news puts toll lower

Illustrative photo of a member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces removing an Islamic State flag in the town of Tabqa in Syria. (AFP Photo/Delil Souleiman)
Illustrative photo of a member of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces removing an Islamic State flag in the town of Tabqa in Syria. (AFP Photo/Delil Souleiman)

BEIRUT, Lebanon — At least 11 people, mostly civilians, were killed in a central Syria attack blamed on the Islamic State group, a war monitor said Sunday.

The IS group “attacked about 75 people on Saturday while they were collecting truffles in the Palmyra area, in the eastern countryside of Homs,” said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group of unclear funding.

The attack killed “10 civilians, including a woman, and a member of the (Syrian) regime forces,” it said, adding that others remain missing.

Syria’s state news agency SANA reported the attack but gave a lower death toll, saying IS “terrorists” fired machine guns and killed four civilians, including a woman.

Ten others were wounded in the attack, some “critically,” the news agency added.

After the jihadists lost their last scraps of territory following a military onslaught backed by a US-led coalition in March 2019, IS remnants in Syria mostly retreated into desert hideouts in the country’s east.

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

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

In April 2021, the extremist group launched a similar attack, abducting 19 people, mostly civilians, in the eastern countryside of the central city of Hama.

Syrian and Russian helicopters continue to launch airstrikes targeting IS desert hideouts.

The Syrian conflict, which was triggered by the suppression of pro-democracy demonstrations, has claimed around 500,000 lives and displaced around half the country’s prewar population.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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