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128 bodies found in Syria town held by Daesh

A Daesh soldier stands in front of people as they dig their own graves [File photo]
A Daesh soldier stands in front of people as they dig their own graves [File photo]

Some 128 bodies have been found in the town of Qaryatayn, after Syrian regime forces recaptured areas of the Homs province from Daesh fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR).

Syrian and Russian forces retook the town last Friday; three weeks after Daesh militants entered the area. After the fighters were expelled, residents found bodies on the street and many in mass graves and ditches.

“ISIS has over a period of 20 days executed at least 116 civilians in reprisal killings, accusing them of collaboration with regime forces,” SOHR chief, Rami Abdelrahman, said, using another name for Daesh.

According to Talal Barazi, the governor of Homs, most of those killed were government employees, or people associated with Syria’s ruling Ba’ath party.

The Observatory also said it documented at least 12 killed at the hands of pro-government troops after they regained control of the town.

Read: Calls to set up safe zone for Christians in Iraq

Daesh first seized Qaryatayn, a primarily Christian populated town, in August 2015, and relied on its strategic location to defend other cities such as Palmyra.

With Russian backing, Syrian troops regained control in April 2016, but Daesh, facing major losses in Syria and Iraq, launched a new attack on the town and recaptured it in late September. At the time, Russia accused the US, which is battling the Daesh group, of purposely looking the other way and allowing Daesh to attack Qaryatayn.

Daesh has lost swathes of territory to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and to a rival offensive by the Syrian Army and allied forces this year, forcing it to fall back to the fertile Euphrates valley area downstream of Raqqa.

More than half a million people are believed to have been killed in the Syrian civil war over the past six years; the vast majority have been killed by President Bashar Al-Assad’s government.

Read: Raqqa fall ‘critical breakthrough’, end of Daesh in sight

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