Oct. 23 (UPI) -- Before Islamic State forces were expelled from the Syrian town of al-Qaryatayn, they killed dozens of civilians in what appears to be a revenge attack, pro-government forces said.
Syrian government and pro-government forces retook the ancient oasis town over the weekend. When they surveyed the damage, they found at least 45 civilians dead.
Al-Masdar News reported the targeted civilians escaped al-Qaryatayn when it was overtaken by IS militants in 2015 -- and returned when it was liberated last year.
The town, 190 miles from Deir Ezzor, was an Islamic State stronghold again retaken by militants after heavy fighting last month -- in which 153 Syrian government and pro-government troops died.
The Islamic State regarded those they killed to be traitors or government spies, officials said.
An exact death toll is unknown. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Monday that 128 had died in al-Qaryatayn.