World News

Islamic State killed more than 60, dozens missing in Syrian town: governor

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Islamic State killed more than 60 civilians and left 100 others missing in a town in Syria’s central Homs province over three weeks before the Syrian army recaptured it on Saturday, the provincial governor said.

Syrian troops and allied forces regained control of al-Qaryatayn town “after eliminating terrorist Daesh (Islamic State) groups that had infiltrated it,” state media said on Saturday.

A Britain-based war monitor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said Islamic State had killed at least 128 people in the town.

Homs province governor Talal Barazi told Reuters by phone that “More than 60 were dead, while more than 100 others are missing, either kidnapped or killed”.

Searches in the area had uncovered 13 bodies on Sunday, of whom four had been identified, he said.

Barazi said all the civilians who were killed were public employees and pensioners with their families.

Earlier this month, the Observatory said IS fighters had seized the town from government forces, part of a counter-attack by the jihadists whose territory in eastern Syria has been whittled down.

At least 83 people were killed in the 48 hours before the Syrian army retook the town, the war monitor said, adding that IS had accused the civilians of being “agents of the regime”.

Syrian state TV showed Barazi and state officials touring al-Qaryatayn on Monday.

Barazi said that more than 4,000 civilians there needed urgent supplies, and promised restore essential services in the coming few days.

The town lies nearly 300 km (190 miles) west of Deir al-Zor city, the current focus of the government offensive, with Russian jets and Iran-backed militias, against Islamic State.

Reporting by Sarah Dadouch and Kinda Makieh; editing by John Stonestreet