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Syrian troops discover mass grave in Palmyra

Syria's military has reportedly found a mass grave containing around 40 bodies in the city of Palmyra. Government forces took back control of the ancient Syrian town from "Islamic State" militants last weekend.

Syrian troops unearthed the remains of soldiers and civilians executed by "Islamic State" (IS) in Palmyra's northeastern outskirts, a military official said Saturday.

The source told news agency AFP there appeared to be several women and children among the victims.

"They were executed either by beheading or by shooting," the source said, adding that the bodies had been transferred to a military hospital in the provincial capital, Homs.

Syrian troops backed by Russian forces

recaptured Palmyra

last Sunday from IS fighters who overran the city and its UNESCO-listed ruins in May 2015. During its 10-month occupation, the terror group destroyed the ancient temples of Bel and Baal Shamin and looted relics that dated back thousands of years.

According to the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the militants also executed scores of people and buried them on the city's fringes.

The loss of Palmyra marked one of the

biggest defeats for IS

, and came during an international ceasefire between Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces and opposing militia.

IS and the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front are not part of the truce, which has helped aid agencies deliver humanitarian help to towns and villages under siege. More than 250,000 people have been killed and millions displaced in Syria's five-year war.

nm/ng (Reuters, AFP)

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