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At Least 53 Killed Syria Attack, Islamic State Blamed, State Media Says

Homs, Syria
Homs, Syria

At least 53 civilians were killed in an attack in Syria's central desert province of Homs, state media reported on Friday, blaming the Islamic State group.

The bodies of all of the victims taken to the Palmyra state hospital had gunshot wounds to the head, state news agency SANA reported, citing a hospital official.

State media said the victims had been gathering desert truffles when they were attacked. Homs province is controlled by the Syrian government and its allies.

Five people who were wounded were transferred to another hospital. One of the survivors told SANA that the attackers had burned their cars.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

IS once controlled vast swaths of territory there, losing its hold on land in separate offensives by U.S.-backed fighters, government forces backed by Russia, regional militants and Turkish-sponsored rebels.

It now uses sleeper cells to wage hit-and-run attacks in Syria.

Syrian government troops are spread thin across the country and rely heavily on their allies, including the Lebanese armed group Hezbollah and Iran, to maintain control over their territory.

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