BEIRUT (AP) — Members of the Islamic State group have kidnapped dozens of people in a central province and the bodies of some have been found with their throats slit, an opposition war monitor and pro-government media reported Friday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the extremists kidnapped about 40 people Thursday and killed at least 15 people whose bodies were discovered Friday in the central province of Hama. The Observatory said the dead included seven civilians and eight armed tribesmen.
The pro-government Sham FM radio station said the extremists attacked farmers who were collecting truffles in the eastern countryside of Hama province. It added that some of the kidnapped “were martyred” while contact was lost with others.
Despite their defeat in Syria in March 2019, the militant group’s sleeper cells still carry out deadly attacks both in Syria and Iraq where they once declared a “caliphate.”
Last month, IS sleeper cells attacked workers collecting truffles near the central town of Sukhna, killing at least 53 people, mostly workers but also some Syrian government security forces.
The truffles are a seasonal delicacy that can be sold for a high price. Since the truffle hunters work in large groups in remote areas, IS militants in previous years have repeatedly preyed on them, emerging from the desert to abduct them, kill some and ransom others for money.