According to activists and state media, at least 53 people were killed in an attack by the terrorist organization Islamic State (IS) in Syria. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday evening that 46 of the victims were civilians. Seven were therefore Syrian soldiers. The attack happened in the city of Al-Sukhna in the east of the country.
The terrorists were armed with submachine guns and on motorcycles, said the head of the observatory, Rami Abdel-Rahman, the German Press Agency. First they attacked a checkpoint and killed the soldiers. They then fired "randomly" at the civilians in a field. According to the information, people were looking for truffles there. According to the observatory, not only a few victims but also all the terrorists managed to escape.
The state agency Sana, citing the responsible hospital, reported that after the attack, doctors had examined not only bodies with shots in the head, but also five people injured by shrapnel. It was initially unclear whether the attackers also killed their victims with explosive devices or only with gunshots.
A few days ago, IS extremists kidnapped around 75 truffle seekers in the region and eventually killed 16 of them, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Dozens are still missing.
Once a strategically important location for IS
Located in the central province of Homs, the desert city of Al-Suchna became a strategically important IS bastion in 2015 before Syrian government forces expelled the terrorist militia from there two years later.
Years ago, IS controlled large areas of Syria and neighboring Iraq. In the meantime, the IS has been defeated there militarily, but there are still active terrorist cells in both countries that carry out attacks.
The areas around Al-Suchna are controlled by government forces and pro-Iranian militias. Iran and Russia are the main supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the war. Russian forces have located several IS hideouts in the desert in recent months and killed dozens of the terrorist network's supporters.
IS sees Assad as a puppet of Moscow and Tehran. The Sunni terrorists see the Iranian militias, most of which are Shiites, as arch-enemies.
Shortly before the attack became known, the US Department of Defense announced that the US military had killed a high-ranking IS member in a helicopter attack in north-eastern Syria.
A civil war has been raging in Syria for almost twelve years, in which the UN estimates that more than 350,000 people have died. The northwest of the country was also shaken by violent earthquakes on Monday last week, thousands died. Al-Suchna was not affected by the tremors.