In a grim incident, Islamic State (IS) militants executed a lethal attack on a military bus in eastern Deir al-Zour province, resulting in the deaths of 23 Syrian soldiers. The jihadists reportedly encircled the military bus before unleashing gunfire, leaving more than 10 soldiers wounded and numerous others missing. This assault marks the deadliest IS attack this year.
Though IS lost its territorial control in 2019, the extremist group has managed to maintain concealed outposts within the sprawling Syrian desert. From these hidden locations, IS orchestrates surprise ambushes and swift hit-and-run operations, persisting as a serious security concern.
According to the Sana news agency, a military source conveyed that a “terrorist” faction targeted a military bus on the steppe desert road leading from the T2 pumping station. This station, positioned close to the Iraqi border south of Deir al-Zour, was once an IS stronghold until Syrian forces recaptured it in 2017. The attack left a tragic toll of dead and injured army personnel.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring organization with extensive ground sources, warned that the casualty count is likely to escalate. The SOHR, known for its accuracy in reporting Syrian conflict developments, disclosed that this attack constitutes the most lethal IS operation of the year.
This attack follows a recent IS assault in Raqa province, where 10 Syrian soldiers and pro-government fighters lost their lives. Notably, IS has intensified its attacks in the north and north-east regions of Syria in recent weeks.
The death of Abu Hussein al-Qurayshi, the suspected former leader of IS in Syria, was confirmed in April by Turkish forces. Al-Qurayshi’s demise was hailed as a significant blow to the extremist group.
Despite losing control over vast territories encompassing 88,000 square kilometers (34,000 square miles) across north-eastern Syria and northern Iraq, IS remains a tenacious menace. The group’s brutal rule once impacted nearly eight million people. While IS no longer dominates physical domains, it continues to persist as an enduring security challenge, as highlighted by this recent attack on Syrian soldiers.