Islamic State attack kills Syria mushroom pickers
By Our Correspondent
At least 11 people have died in an attack in central Syria that has been blamed on Islamic State militants, a war monitor has said.
Militants attacked a group of about 75 people picking mushrooms near Palmyra, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said.
Syria’s state news agency SANA reported a lower death toll of four.
The attack took place away from parts of northern Syria that were hit by Monday’s deadly earthquake.
The SOHR, which monitors developments in Syria through a network of sources, said that Islamic State cells have been exploiting the “preoccupation of the international community” following the aftermath of the quakes.
It said that 10 civilians including a woman plus a member of the Syrian regime forces were killed, and others are missing.
SANA reported that Islamic State members fired machine guns at the people on Saturday, and that ten were wounded in the attack, some “critically”.
Rescue groups have criticised the lack of aid reaching Syria in the aftermath of Monday’s quake.
Years of conflict have ravaged parts of the country that remain under the control of rebels, who are battling the government of President Bashar al-Assad. His government is under Western sanctions.
Syria has been dealing with effects of a 12-year long civil war, which broke out in 2011 after pro-democracy demonstrations were met by deadly force from the government.
The Syrian conflict has left half a million people dead, devastated cities, and drawn in other countries.
In 2014, the jihadist group Islamic State seized large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, imposing its brutal rule on almost eight million people.
The group was driven from its last piece of territory in 2019, but the UN has warned that it remains a persistent threat.