BEIRUT (AP) — The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for an ambush in eastern Syria that killed and wounded dozens of soldiers as opposition activists said the death toll rose Saturday to at least 33 as some of the wounded succumbed to their injuries.
The attack is among the deadliest to be carried out this year by the extremists. IS sleeper cells still carry deadly attacks despite their defeat in Syria in 2019. The group once controlled large parts of Syria and Iraq where they declared a caliphate in 2014.
The Friday night statement said IS fighters ambushed two army trucks in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour using different kinds of weapons. IS claimed that 40 members of the Syrian military were killed and 10 were wounded.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the death toll reached 33 Saturday. Another activist collective that covers news in eastern Syria put the death toll at 35 adding that all of the dead were members of the Syrian army’s 17th Division.
The Observatory said the toll could rise further as some of the soldiers are in critical condition.
“Let the whole world know that our allegiance to our leaders is practiced with deeds and not words and our Jihad is going on until Doomsday,” IS said.
In one of their deadliest recent attacks, IS sleeper cells attacked workers collecting truffles near the central town of Sukhna in February, killing at least 53 people — mostly workers but also some Syrian government security forces.
Last week, IS announced the death in Syria of its little-known leader, Abu al-Hussein al-Husseini al-Qurayshi — who had headed the extremist organization since November — and named his successor. He was the fourth leader to be killed since its founder, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was killed in 2019 by U.S. troops in northwest Syria.