The Syrian government said a mass grave was discovered in a northern section of Palmyra after forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad retook the ancient Roman city from the Islamic State last week.
Syrian state media reported that at least 45 corpses were found, including the bodies of three children and five women, attributing the grisly scene to a massacre by ISIS in May last year, shortly after members of the self-proclaimed caliphate seized the city.
The Syrian Observatory on Human Rights, a British-affiliated organization, said several hundred people were executed under ISIS control. The victims included civilians, local militiamen and members of the Syrian military. Many were reportedly beheaded and some showed signs of torture.
The mass grave was the only one discovered there since Syrian troops regained control of Palmyra on Sunday after an intensive weeks-long battle that included the support of Russian airstrikes. A member of the Syrian military who spoke on the condition of anonymity said more than 3,000 mines have been found in and around the city since it was captured, according to the Associated Press.
“They booby-trapped everything, trees, doors, animals,” the individual said.
Islamic State fighters also destroyed Roman temples nearly 2,000 years old, though Syria has said it would rebuild the structures.