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Syria: Suspected IS land mine kills truffle foragers

April 10, 2023

Workers foraging for truffles were killed when their vehicle hit a land mine believed to have been planted by the militant "Islamic State" group. It's the latest in a spate of attacks on truffle hunters in Syria.

An explosion is provoked as Syrian soldiers take part in a training session to remove and neutralise unexploded weapons, in the countryside of the capital Damascus, on June 19, 2022
At least 137 civilians have been killed by land mines in Syria this yearImage: LOUAI BESHARA/AFP

Multiple civilians were killed by a land mine in Syria on Sunday, according to local authorities and independent observers.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said nine truffle hunters were killed when their vehicle hit the land mine in Deir Ez-Zor province.

Syria's state-run SANA news agency also reported the incident with at least six casualties and blamed the so-called "Islamic State" group (IS) for the land mine.

At least 137 civilians have been killed by land mines in Syria this year, including 30 children.

IS targeting truffle hunters

In Syria, truffles are a seasonal delicacy that are found underground in the desert. They also fetch a high price.

On Saturday, SANA reported that six other people foraging for truffles were killed by an anti-tank mine left by IS in the desert outside Homs in central western Syria.

Truffle foragers are particularly vulnerable to land mines and IS militants since they work in large groups in remote areas, the Observatory said in a report on Saturday.

Two men selling truffles in the Syrian city of Hama
Truffle workers in Syria are particularly vulnerable to attacks and ambushes by the so-called "Islamic State" groupImage: LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images

IS militants have also abducted, held ransom, and even killed truffle hunters in Syria in recent months.

In February, 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.

zc/jsi (AP, Reuters, dpa)