The Islamic State group has executed at least 217 people, including civilians, in and around the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra in the past nine days, a monitor said on Sunday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had documented the executions of 67 civilians, including children, and 150 members of Syrian government forces by Islamic State extremists in different parts of Homs Province since May 16.
“The Observatory has confirmed that the Islamic State has executed 67 civilians, including 14 children and 12 women in Sukhnah, al-Amiriyah, the outskirts of the Officers’ Housing and Palmyra,” the Britain-based group said, referring to several areas in the east of Homs Province.
“[Islamic State] also executed more than 150 members of the [Syrian] army, National Defense Forces and Popular Committees [pro-regime militias] and others accused of being ‘informers loyal to the regime,’” the Observatory added.
Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said that entire families had been executed, including children along with their parents.
“Most of the deaths were in Palmyra, some of the executions were shootings, others were killed with knives and beheaded,” he said.
The toll from the observatory came hours after Syrian state media said the group formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant had carried out a “massacre” in Palmyra, reportedly slaughtering about 00 civilians, mostly women and children.
The observatory said the executions came in the days after the group began a sweep into Homs from their stronghold in neighboring Deir Ezzor Province.
The group captured the strategic town of Sukhnah on May 13 and took Palmyra about 24 hours later, prompting international concern about the fate of the city’s famed ancient ruins.
Fighters entered the museum in the historic city and had placed guards at its doors, Syria’s antiquities director said on Saturday, although most of the museum’s treasures were removed and brought to Damascus before the extremists cemented their control.
The observatory said that another 600 people had been taken prisoner by the group in its sweep through the area, among them government forces and pro-government militants, but also civilians accused of ties to Damascus.