Dozens of Syrian Army personnel from the 4th Armored Division have been killed on the Deir ez Zor – Homs highway near Palmyra after their convoy was attacked by Islamic State insurgents.
Syrian state media initially claimed that 25 had been killed and 13 wounded, but stated that the dead were civilians who had died when their bus had been attacked. However, imagery quickly emerged that showed wounded soldiers being loaded onto trucks and evacuated. A Twitter account linked to Government media uploaded images from the scene, announcing that 28 had been killed.
ISIS has been a constant problem for traffic trying to travel along the highway. Very little civilian traffic is allowed on the road because of regular attacks. The men from the Fourth Division were returning home for leave when their bus was attacked. It is unclear the size of the attacking ISIS force. But it is not uncommon for large attacks to take place here after Syrian Government clearance operations take place. It is ISIS’ way of making their presence known.
The Syrian Government will need to take further precautions on the Deir ez Zor – Homs highway in order to secure it. As the attacks today represent some of the highest casualties in a single day they have taken all year. Until ISIS can be removed from the desert, travel on this highway will never be safe.