BEIRUT: Thirty-seven Syrian soldiers were killed in an attack on Wednesday that was claimed by the militant Islamic State group.

In one of the deadliest attacks since the fall of their “caliphate” last year, the IS fighters ambushed a bus carrying the soldiers in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor.

The IS overran large parts of Syria and Iraq and proclaimed a cross-border “caliphate” in 2014, before multiple offensives in the two countries led to its territorial defeat.

The group was overcome in Syria in March last year, but sleeper cells continue to launch attacks in the vast desert that stretches from the central province of Homs to Deir Ezzor and the border with Iraq.

“It was one of the deadliest attacks since the fall of the IS (self-proclaimed) caliphate” last year, Syrian Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said. Abdel Rahman said the bus was attacked near the village of Shula by militants who detonated roadside bombs before opening fire on the soldiers.

At least 37 soldiers were killed, including eight officers, and 12 others wounded, the war monitor said. He added that some of those injured were in “critical condition”. Two other buses which were part of the convoy managed to escape.

In Dec 2017, Iraq’s prime minister Haider al Abadi announced a final victory against the IS and the group lost the last shred of their so-called caliphate in Syria in March last year.

Published in Dawn, December 31st, 2020

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