Daesh militants have reportedly murdered scores of people in attacks on government-held areas near the Syrian city of Deir ez-Zor on Saturday. Al Arabiya reports that Syrian state media says as many as 250 to 300 people may have died in the Daesh massacre, including Syrian soldiers and their families, as well as civilians.
If confirmed, the massacre would be one of the highest death tolls for a single day in Syria's already deadly five-year civil war. According to locals, the mass murders were carried out execution-style, though some of the casualties were beheaded. Sputnik International quoted a local source in describing the murders, saying the group continues killing whole families.
"The horrific massacre carried out today by ISIL militants in al-Bagilya in Deir ez-Zor. 280 victims, including women, children and old people. Reason — cooperation with the Syrian army."
"We have 60 people confirmed killed, but the number is big. The details are hard to get so far but the deaths are in dozens."
"They sent six suicide bombers first and they tried to break into military positions but they failed."
The city of Deir ez-Zor is the capital of the province of the same name, an oil-producing region rich with history and bordering Iraq. As of now, it is mostly held by Daesh. The Syrian government has managed to hold onto portions of the provincial capital city and the nearby military airport, despite repeated attacks by Daesh.
Russian warplanes flew nearby, and heavy airstrikes were carried out against the Daesh stronghold of Raqqa in support of Syrian government forces. Russian airstrikes near Aleppo will also be utilized by the Syrian government to seize territory back from Daesh fighters. As of now, the Syrian government has over seven battlefronts open in Aleppo province against the terrorist insurgency.
Daesh supporters also took to social media to claim the group had captured an army weapons depot and even a few tanks. However, these reports have not been independently verified.
The Syrian army notably had to remove the extensive collection of ancient historical artifacts from the Deir ez-Zor museum last year in the face of Islamist advances. Deir ez-Zor was also the home for the famous Armenian Genocide Martyrs' Memorial before the complex was destroyed with explosives by Daesh on September 21, 2014.
[Photo by John Moore/Getty Images]