A Syrian military bus was targeted by the Islamic State (ISIS) on Thursday evening in a desert region on the edge of the eastern city of Deir Ezzor. The attack killed at least 23 soldiers and injured a further 10, reported the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
The death toll could be higher due to the severity of some soldiers’ wounds and the fact that dozens of soldiers are still unaccounted for, according to the UK-based war monitoring group.
The incident marks the third major offensive by ISIS militants against Syrian forces since the beginning of August. In a separate attack on Monday, 10 Syrian soldiers and pro-government fighters were killed in Raqqa. On 1 August, seven people, including five soldiers, were killed in another ISIS attack in a central desert area.
ISIS sleeper cells have recently carried out attacks against both military forces and civilians in the central, northeast and eastern areas of the country in an attempt to resurrect itself despite its defeat in Syria in March 2019. The increase in attacks by ISIS sleeper cells has been particularly effective in the central desert regions of Syria under the control of Damascus.
According to SOHR statistics, the number of people killed by ISIS in the Syrian desert since early 2023 has increased to 382. Among these casualties were 225 members of the regime’s armed forces and its allied proxy militias. The deaths resulted from 106 separate actions carried out by ISIS members, ranging from ambushes and armed attacks to bombings. In addition to military personnel, 157 civilians were tragically killed in ISIS attacks in the Syrian desert.