Special to WorldTribune.com
Syrian regime forces made a gruesome discovery after driving Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) from Palmyra. The soldiers uncovered a mass grave containing the remains of 42 people slaughtered by the terror group’s jihadists.
The Syrian army “uncovered a mass grave of officers, soldiers, members of the popular committees (pro-regime militia) and their relatives,” a military source told AFP on April 2.
The source, who asked not to be named, said 24 of the victims were civilians, including three children.
“They were executed either by beheading or by shooting.”
In a major victory for the regime of President Bashar Assad, the Syrian army, backed by Russian airstrikes, recaptured Palmyra on March 27. ISIL had controlled the ancient city since May 2015.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed the discovery of the mass grave. The Observatory said that ISIL, during its nearly 10-month occupation of Palmyra, executed at least 280 people.
Few of Palmyra’s up to 70,000 residents have returned.
“People fear reprisal by the regime, and also the mines planted all over the city” by ISIL, Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
“In addition, many houses were flattened by Russian airstrikes before Palmyra was reclaimed.”
Meanwhile, Assad’s forces on April 1 launched an offensive on the ISIL-held city of Sukhna, about 70 kilometers (45 miles) west of Palmyra.
“If the regime takes Sukhna, it will use it as a launching pad for an operation against Deir Ezzor province,” in eastern Syria, along the Iraqi border, which is mostly controlled by ISIL, Abdel Rahman said.
The Observatory reported that at least 40 “mostly foreign” ISIL members, including 18 child soldiers, were killed on March 31 when Syrian forces launched raids on a village in Deir Ezzor province.
It was one of the highest casualty counts that ISIL has suffered in a single strike since it emerged in Syria in 2013, the Observatory said.