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ISIS had created a mass grave in Palmyra

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Smoke rises from the modern city of Palmyra, in Homs Governorate, Syria April 1, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

By Lisa Barrington

April 2,2016, BEIRUT (Reuters) -Mass grave has just been detected in Palmyra. Syrian troops have identified 45 bodies so far in a mass grave found in the city of Palmyra after it was recaptured from Islamic State, a military source told Reuters on Saturday.

Mass Garve. Smoke rises from the modern city of Palmyra, in Homs Governorate, Syria April 1, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
Smoke rises from the modern city of Palmyra, in Homs Governorate, Syria April 1, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

Syrian government forces backed by heavy Russian air support drove Islamic State out of Palmyra last Sunday, inflicting what the army called a mortal blow to militants who had dynamited the city’s ancient temples.

Mass Grave in Palmyra: The communal grave, on the north-eastern edge of Palmyra, is the only one found so far in the city by the Syrian forces, the source said. It held the bodies of both civilians and Syrian army members captured by Islamic State.

Syrian state news agency SANA said on Friday the grave contained many women and children and some of the bodies had been beheaded.

In May last year, as Islamic State took control of Palmyra, the hard-line Islamist militants were reported by Syrian state media to have killed at least 400 people in the first four days of control.

A view shows the damage at the Monumental Arch in the historical city of Palmyra, in Homs Governorate, Syria April 1, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki
A view shows the damage at the Monumental Arch in the historical city of Palmyra, in Homs Governorate, Syria April 1, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the five-year-old Syrian conflict through a network of sources on the ground, said that Islamic State had killed a number of people at an earlier time and buried them on the outskirts of the city.

The Observatory reported on Saturday that fighting between Syrian forces and Islamic State around Qaryatain to the west of Palmyra. It also reported, and Russian and Syrian air strikes in the same area and to the east of Palmyra around the town of Sukhna.

Attacks by government forces against Islamic State positions to the around Palmyra are aimed at moving east across the desert to Islamic State-held Deir al-Zor near the Iraqi border, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said.

(Reporting by Lisa Barrington, editing by Jeremy Gaunt, Larry King)

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Syria Uses Familiar Tactic in Rebel Idlib: Bombing Civilians

The United Nations is demanding an immediate end to indiscriminate attacks against civilians

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Syria, Rebel, Idlib
FILE - Destruction is seen around the Udai hospital following airstrikes on the town of Saraqeb in Syria's northwestern province of Idlib, Jan. 29, 2018. VOA

The United Nations is demanding an immediate end to indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure in northwest Syria, warning the warring parties their actions might amount to war crimes.

U.N. agencies say an intense military escalation by Russian-backed Syrian forces and armed rebels in northwest Syria is having a catastrophic impact on the civilian population. Agencies confirm at least 160 civilians have been killed and hundreds more wounded in fighting over recent weeks.

They say 3 million people in Idlib need protection and 300,000 civilians who have fled their homes in the past two months are in imminent danger.

 

Spokesman for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Jens Laerke says civilians and civilian infrastructure are coming under daily attack by airstrikes, artillery shelling and barrel bombs.

Syria, Rebel, Idlib
FILE – Damage is seen at a hospital after an airstrike in Deir al-Sharqi village in Idlib province, Syria, April 27 2017. VOA

“Since the 28th of April, there have been 25 confirmed attacks on health care in the northwest, including on 24 health facilities and one ambulance,” he said. “Two of the attacked health facilities were hit more than once, and at least six health workers have been killed.”

Laerke says health care facilities are fully protected under international humanitarian law, and it is illegal to target them. Few health facilities remain intact to care for the sick and wounded, he told VOA.

“Already before the recent months of escalation, the status of health care in Syria at large, and in particular in Idlib, was already appalling,” he said. “Even though those facilities have not been hit, they fear that they may be hit. So, the doctors, the health care personnel are leaving, the patients are not going to those hospitals. Understandably.”

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Laerke says aid agencies are providing food and health services through mobile clinics to people who are newly displaced in northwest Syria. In addition, many schools in the region have been attacked, he says, so catch-up classes are being provided for thousands of children who have been out of school since May. (VOA)