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Syria: At least 11 killed in suspected Islamic State attack

War monitor says militants attacked civilians collecting truffles in the Palmyra area
An Islamic State banner in the town of Al-Karamah, Syria (AFP)

At least 11 people have died following an attack in central Syria, which has been attributed to the Islamic State group.

According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the militant group "attacked about 75 people on Saturday while they were collecting truffles in the Palmyra area, in the eastern countryside of Homs".

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. 

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Sporadic attacks

After IS lost their last scraps of territory following a military onslaught backed by a US-led coalition in March 2019, IS 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 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.

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