Syria conflict: 230 bodies 'found in mass grave' in eastern Deir al-Zour province

The tribe is from Deir al-Zor province has around 70,000 members

Isis has made huge profits from captured oilfields
Isis has made huge profits from captured oilfields

More the 230 bodies have been found in a mass grave in Syria’s eastern Deir al-Zor province, a group monitoring conflict in the country said on Wednesday.

Members of the extremist group Isis have not claimed responsibility for the deaths, but the dead are believed to be members of the al-Sheitaat tribe which had battled the militants, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The tribe is from Deir al-Zor province and numbers about 70,000. If confirmed, their deaths would bring the number of Sheitaat members killed by the Isis to over 900.

Omar Abu Layla, a spokesman for the moderate rebel umbrella Free Syrian Army group in Syria's east, told Reuters that Sheitaat tribespeople had discovered the mass grave as they returned to their homes. Isis, which calls itself the Islamic State, is occupying the area and had given them permission to return.

"This is a message from Daesh that if there is any attempt at revenge, your fate will be the same as your relatives," he said, using a derogatory Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

Over the course of this year, Isis has seized swathes of Syria and Iraq, and currently controls all but a few pockets of Deir al-Zor province.

The group has used revenue from the province’s oilfields to fund its operations, but faces pressure since a US-led coalition started launching air strikes against it in Syria in September.

The gruesome discovery comes after the militant group had killed some 700 members of the Sheitaat tribe in August - the majority of them civilians - over the preceding two weeks after conflict flared when the militants took over two oilfields.

The Observatory, which has tracked violence on all sides of the nearly four-year-old conflict, said beheadings were used to kill many of the tribe's members.

Isis fighters are currently battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces near Deir al-Zor city for a military air base that is one of the government's last strongholds in the country's east.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also revealed today that more than 120,000 fighters supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been killed in the country's civil war since it began in 2011.

In 2011, Syria's conflict began as a peaceful protest movement calling for reforms in quickly but descended into civil war after a government crackdown.

In total, more than 200,000 people have been killed and millions more have fled their homes.

The unstable situation means exact death tolls are difficult to verify, but the figures calculated by the Observatory are widely regarded as credible. The United Nations estimated in August more than 190,000 people had died in the conflict.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in