Palmyra syria attack Daesh
A handout picture released by the official Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) on February 12, 2023, shows medics caring for people injured in a Daesh attack earlier in central Syria, at a hospital in Palmyra city. Image Credit: AFP

Beirut: At least 11 people, mostly civilians, were killed in a central Syria attack blamed on the Daesh group, a war monitor said Sunday.

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

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 militants lost their last scraps of territory following a military onslaught backed by a US-led coalition in March 2019, Daesh 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 air strikes 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 pre-war population.