World Bulletin / News Desk
Fighting between ISIL and the Syrian army was reported on Saturday near an ancient citadel in the historic city of Palmyra, the target of a big offensive by the group that has raised concern for the U.N. world heritage site.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based group that reports on the war, also said ISIL had executed 23 people on Friday including nine minors and five women in areas seized from state control outside the city.
It marks the second mass execution reported since ISIL advanced this week into the area some 240 km (150 miles) northeast of Damascus. In the first, the Observatory said the fighters had executed 26 men, beheading 10 of them.
It reflects the pattern of attacks by the group elsewhere.
A Syrian military source said ISIL was keeping up its attack but at "a far distance" from the city which had been secured with army reinforcements. Fighting continued on Saturday but at a lower intensity.
Palmyra, also known as Tadmur, is home to extensive ruins of one of the most important cultural centres of the ancient world and was put on UNESCO's list of World Heritage in danger in 2013.
The Syrian military has been mounting air strikes against ISIL fighters in the area. Rami Abdulrahman, who runs the Observatory, said the sides were fighting near a military intelligence building in Palmyra on Saturday.
Fighting was also reported at a gas field to the east of Palmyra. A statement posted by ISIL supporters on Twitter said the group had taken large parts of the gas field.
This week the Syrian army and the allied Lebanese group Hezbollah have driven insurgents from wide areas of the mountainous region to the north of Damascus, shoring up Assad's grip over the border zone between Syria and Lebanon.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 16 Mayıs 2015, 13:00