At Least 53 Civilians Killed in Attack in Syrian Desert

    At Least 53 Civilians Killed in Attack in Syrian Desert
    Last updated Feb 20, 2023
    Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


    • Syrian state media reported that at least 53 people were killed southwest of Sukhna in the Homs province last Friday while picking for truffles. State media, as well as Western sources, have attributed the attack to the Islamic State (IS).
    • The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on Saturday that the death toll had reached 61 civilians and seven soldiers from the Syrian army. The monitor also reported that IS was taking advantage of the annual truffle harvest season to carry out attacks in remote locations.
    • IS hasn't claimed responsibility for the attack, which is usually done via associated media channels.
    • The SOHR reported that IS attacked the same region earlier this month, killing 11 and kidnapping 75 people who were also reportedly collecting truffles. The Sukhna region is held by the Syrian government. Russian forces and Iranian-backed militias are also present in the area.
    • IS's last large-scale attack in Syria occurred last year when the group assaulted a prison holding IS fighters outside of Hasakah, which is controlled by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
    • Though IS had its "caliphate," or territory, dismantled in 2019, the group has managed to maintain an ongoing insurgency in the Syrian desert, which on the east side of the Euphrates is held by US-backed forces and on the west side by the Syrian government.


    Narrative A

    IS is using the earthquake in southern Turkey and northern Syria as a cover to commit atrocities. With the world's attention on other matters, the group was able to undertake a terrible massacre of Syrian civilians. The fight against IS is definitely not over, and all parties involved must continue their effort in liquidating the group.

    Narrative B

    Though one may assume that an attack like this was obviously committed by IS, there is a possibility that the Fatemiyoun Brigade, an Iran-backed Afghan Shiite militia, actually is the real perpetrator. Iran's sectarian militias are known for their brutality and also have tactically tried to blend in with the local population in the past. Iran continues to meddle in the local politics of the Syrian desert, and one must keep in mind that it is Iran that benefits from chaos in Syria.

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