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The New Arab

Twelve Iranian fighters killed in mine explosion in central Syria

Syrian soldiers take part in a de-mining exercise [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 November, 2019

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Twelve pro-regime fighters were killed when an Iranian convoy drove into a minefield in central Syria, thought to have been laid by retreating IS fighters.
Twelve members of a militia affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) were killed and 10 others injured on Sunday when landmines exploded in a former farming area, in Homs governorate in central Syria.

Local media reported that a convoy belonging to the Iranian militia Haj Kamal hit a minefield in the Halhila area near the town of Sokhna, east of Palmyra.

On top of the casualties, the explosions destroyed two pick-up trucks and left the rest of the convoy with material damage.

Several Iran-backed militias, including Hezbollah and Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) have been deployed in Homs and Deir az-Zour in support of the Syrian regime.

The mines are thought to have been laid by the Islamic State group (IS), who for a time occupied the territory around the city of Palmyra.

The group laid vast amount of landmines when it was forced to retreat from its territory across Syria and Iraq, which have since killed hundreds of civilians and soldiers especially in the Deir az-Zour region.

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De-mining former IS strongholds continues to be a major challenge in areas taken from the militant group.

Iranian, Afghan and Pakistani militias are stationed on the southern border and along the Euphrates River in Deir az-Zour province in Al Bukamal and Al Mayadeen in also in the east, near the southeastern border, where IS still operate in pockets.

The deployment of these pro-regime militias has also prompted many families and civilians to flee from the area, as they are frequent targets of IS cells.

Much of south, central and eastern Syria is comprised of deserts and sparsely populated, meaning IS cells can operate from hideouts, carrying out sporadic deadly attacks before retreating into the wilderness.

The militant group were ousted from their final stronghold Baghouz, on the southeast border, in March 2019.

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