Damascus: A total of 15 Syrian soldiers were killed on Sunday 6 March 2022 in an attack by the Islamic State group (ISIS). The attack was directed at an army bus in the central Syrian desert.
State media reported this incident as a terrorist attack. Despite the fall of the ISIS ‘caliphate’ in 2019, the group has continued to launch deadly attacks from hideouts in the Syrian desert, which stretch from the outskirts of the capital Damascus to the Iraqi border.
“ISIS cells ‘attacked a military bus’ in the Palmyra Desert. This incident killed 15 soldiers and injured 18 others,” said the UK-based yrian Observatory for Human Rights, as quoted by AFPMonday 7 March 2022.
State news agency SANA has reported 13 killed “including officers” and 18 injured in a “terrorist attack” on a military bus on Sunday afternoon.
The Observatory, which relies on a network of sources across the country, said the death toll could rise because most soldiers were “seriously injured”.
ISIS did not immediately claim responsibility for the attack.
Sunday’s violence came after three regime soldiers were killed Friday east of Palmyra when the vehicle they were traveling in was attacked, the Observatory added.
“So far this year 61 pro-regime soldiers and militias affiliated with Iran have been killed in ISIS attacks in the Syrian desert,” the Observatory added.
About half a million people have been killed and millions more displaced since the Syrian conflict erupted in 2011, after nationwide protests against the government were met with a brutal crackdown.
This conflict escalated into a devastating war that drew regional and international powers.
ISIS leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi blew himself up in early February during an attack by US forces on his home in the northwestern Syrian region of Idlib. This is Syria’s last major opposition bastion.
Qurashi has taken over with ISIS weakened by years of incursions by US-backed local forces and the loss of its self-proclaimed “caliphate” in Syria and northern Iraq.
ISIS ruled brutally over the “caliphate” it had proclaimed in 2014.
The majestic ancient city of Palmyra, a World Heritage site, became a site of public executions, where ISIS also blew up ancient monuments and looted other treasures.
In January, Islamic State militants launched their biggest offensive in years, attacking a prison in the Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syrian city of Hasakeh, aiming to free fellow jihadists.
“Nearly a week of heavy fighting left more than 370 people dead,” according to the Observatory.
Earlier in January, nine Syrian soldiers and allied fighters were killed in an attack on a military convoy in eastern Syria. In November last year, the Observatory said another eastern Syrian offensive left a general and four soldiers dead.
“Two bombs planted on an army bus in central Damascus killed 14 people in October last year,” SANA reported.
It was the deadliest attack in the capital since ISIS-claimed bombings targeted the Palace of Justice in March 2017, killing at least 30 people.