02/09/2021, 10.15
SYRIA
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ISIS attacks a convoy of Syrian soldiers, at least 26 victims

The assault took place in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor. The military was stationed in the area looking for jihadist militiamen. Yesterday the Syrian authorities announced the discovery of the body of the director of Palmyra, who was beheaded in 2015. DNA tests will be carried out to confirm his identity.

Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - A convoy of government army soldiers stationed in the eastern sector of the country, near the border with Iraq, was attacked by militias of the Islamic State (IS, formerly Isis).

According to reports from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an NGO based in the UK with a dense network of correspondents in the area, at least 26 soldiers loyal to President Bashar al-Assad died in the attack yesterday.

Eyewitnesses claim that the jihadist attack took place in the early hours of the day, in the province of Deir Ezzor. The convoy was stationed in the area in search of jihadist cells or lone wolves loyal to the Islamic State and ready to strike.

"Violent clashes between the two sides led to large human losses," says a source, calling the toll from fighting the "largest since the start of the year". 

Also yesterday, six years after the beheading at the hands of the militiamen of the caliphate who had aroused great indignation and emotion, the remains of Khaled Asaad, archaeologist and director of Palmyra, who was beheaded for trying to defend the Unesco heritage site, has reportedly been found. The militiamen had brutally killed the 82-year-old scholar because he refused to reveal the whereabouts of precious artefacts, which the group sold on the black market to finance the war in Syria and Iraq.

Syrian state media report that his body is said to be among the three discovered in Kahloul, a town east of Palmyra. In the coming weeks, DNA tests will be carried out to ascertain the identity of the man and confirm his discovery. Khaled Asaad has dedicated over 50 years of his life to the Unesco heritage site, located near an oasis in the Syrian desert, north-east of Damascus.

At the time of the advance of the militiamen, the director's three sons and a son-in-law, also archaeologists, fled to the capital taking with them several artefacts of great value, preserved in the museum of the nearby town of Tadmor. On the other hand, Assad wanted to stay in Palmyra claiming to belong to the area: "I'll stay here - were his words - even if they kill me".

Khaled Asaad was reportedly beheaded in a public square in Tadmor in August 2015 for refusing to collaborate with the jihadists and his body exposed and hung upside down.

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