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Rights group: Islamic State executes more than 200 detainees in Palmyra

Up to 67 civilians and 150 regime troops were among those killed after being captured around the ancient ruins of Palmyra.

By
Fred Lambert
Ancient Aramaic city of Palmyra, Syria, where Islamic State militants gained control earlier this month before executing more than 200 civilians, regime troops and militiamen, according to a human rights monitoring group. Photo by Linda Marie Caldwell/UPI
Ancient Aramaic city of Palmyra, Syria, where Islamic State militants gained control earlier this month before executing more than 200 civilians, regime troops and militiamen, according to a human rights monitoring group. Photo by Linda Marie Caldwell/UPI

TADMUR, Syria, May 24 (UPI) -- Islamic State forces have executed more than 200 civilians and regime troops since taking the ancient Syrian ruins of Palmyra, a human rights monitoring group reports.

The dead comprise 67 civilians -- including 12 women and 14 children -- as well as 150 government troops taken prisoner in and around the ruins since IS forces advanced into the region in mid-May, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

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The civilians, including five nurses, came from the village of al-Aamiriyyi, the city of al-Sikhni and the city of Tadmur, which is adjacent to the Palmyra ruins. SOHR reports they were executed for working with and providing information for regime forces and for hiding regime troops in their houses.

IS forces captured a further 600 regime troops and allied militiamen in the fighting. SOHR says they await "the same destiny."

The assault on Palmyra began May 13 and was aimed at al-Sikhni and Tadmur. By last Sunday at least 295 people had been killed in the assault, including 123 regime troops and allied militiamen and 115 IS militants (including three "leading figures"), SOHR reports.

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The monitoring group at the time said government forces had pushed IS fighters from Tadmur's northern neighborhoods, but by May 21 the Sunni extremist group had captured the city, including the Palmyra archeological site, and gained control of at least 50 percent of Syria, including the country's last government-held border crossing into Iraq.

SOHR reported that withing 24 hours of taking the city, IS forces killed 17 people, some by beheading.

Palmyra is located near gas fields and a major airbase and lies on the road between Deir al-Zour, the city of Homs and Syria's capital, Damascus. The ancient city features Roman colonnades dating back about 2,000 years. UNESCO regards the ruins as a World Heritage Site.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have suffered a series of reverses in recent weeks. Aside from the capture of Palmyra, a late-April allied Islamist rebel advance in the country's northwest has resulted in the loss of all of the Syrian military's major urban strongholds in Idlib province.

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