Mass grave of 65 bodies uncovered in Syria’s Palmyra, monitor says

A mass grave containing at least 65 bodies killed by the Islamic State extremist militia in the ancient city of Palmyra has been discovered by Syrian government forces, a monitoring group reported on Thursday.

The bodies belonged to members of regime forces and allied paramilitaries who were executed after Islamic State took over Palmyra in May 2015, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The grave was found near a military airport in the central Syrian city, added the Britain-based watchdog, which relies on a network of activists inside Syria for information.

There was no official confirmation in Damascus.

If confirmed, the grisly find will be the second of its kind in Palmyra since it was retaken from Islamic State nearly two months ago.

In April, Syrian state media reported that government forces had uncovered a mass grave in Palmyra holding the bodies of more than 40 people, including women and children.

A month earlier, regime forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, recaptured Palmyra from Islamic State, marking a major victory for the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Regaining Palmyra has allowed the government army to return to the heart of the Syrian desert, a strategic area, control of which had earlier allowed Islamic State to attack government-held territory.

Palmyra is a UNESCO World Heritage site whose triumphal arch was among several landmarks blown up by Islamic State militants.

In New York, UN Syria Envoy Staffan de Mistura told the UN Security Council during a briefing that the next round of peace negotiations would not be reconvened in the coming weeks.

"He briefed [the council] on his intention to start the next round of talks as soon as feasible but certainly not within the next two-three weeks," de Mistura's office said in a statement.

De Mistura said he would be in close contact with the warring parties and the International Syria Support Group until he can decide on the "appropriate time" to restart the talks.

Last update: Fri, 27/05/2016 - 10:18

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