Islamic State slays scores of civilians in Syria

May 20, 2017, 00:22
Islamic State slays scores of civilians in Syria

Another 10 bodies had yet to be identified.

Syria's state news agency SANA said troops and pro-government gunmen repelled the IS attack on villages in Hama province.

At least 53 people were killed, at least 25 civilians, and Syrian medical officials reported that many of them were children, and that some of them were beheaded by ISIS forces.

But last month, it launched a barrage of missiles at Syria's Shayrat airbase, which it said was the launchpad for an alleged chemical attack that killed dozens of civilians.

The two villages are home to members of several religious minority sects, and Al-Mabujeh has been targeted by IS before.

Aqareb has a strategically important geographical position due to its location near the the M5 north-south motorway linking Aleppo with other Syrian provinces.

SOHR said 52 people, civilians and fighters on both sides, were killed and dozens wounded.

Troops and allied militiamen retook the Hama province villages of Aqareb and Al Mabujeh a day after the extremist assault, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

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The office of Staffan de Mistura said Thursday there would be an expert-level meeting with representatives of the Syrian government delegation "on issues and ideas on constitutional process".

At least eight people died when US-led coalition forces carried out an airstrike against Syrian government allies near the Iraqi border on Thursday, a monitoring group has said.

"The death toll is expected to rise because there are some people in a critical condition and others are still missing", said the monitor.

And in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, which is largely under Daesh control, extremist shelling of a government-held neighbourhood killed at least 14 people, the monitor said.

Last month, the US fired 59 missiles at a government air base in central Syria as punishment for a chemical attack blamed on Assad's forces that killed almost 90 people. Turkey views the U.S-backed Kurdish fighters as an extension of its own insurgent group.

The conflict has proved stubbornly resistant to worldwide efforts to find a political solution, but a new round of UN-sponsored talks are underway this week in Geneva.

The UN-sponsored process has been somewhat overshadowed by a parallel track convened in Kazakh capital Astana by regime supporters Russian Federation and Iran along with rebel backer Turkey.

A new constitution is one of four separate "baskets" on the agenda at the talks, along with governance, elections and combating "terrorism".

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