DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) — Militants attacked a bus carrying soldiers on a desert highway in central Syria, killing five troops and wounding 20, state media reported Monday.
The state news agency SANA said the attack happened on Sunday night in a government-controlled area. The report quoted an unnamed official saying the militants launched rockets at the bus traveling in the Palmyra desert, then followed it with gunfire from an anti-aircraft gun.
The official blamed Islamic State militants for the attack. IS militants have been active in southern and central Syria, despite losing territorial control in the country since 2019.
SANA said attacks on buses traveling down the highway linking central Syria to the east are common, alleging that U.S. troops deployed there are facilitating the attacks.
Assad’s government has repeatedly leveled such accusations against U.S. and coalition troops based at al-Tanf. US troops have maintained a limited presence in Syria to train and work with Kurdish-led Syrian forces and opposition fighters in counter-terrorism efforts.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said suspected IS militants ambushed the military convoy, killing at least nine soldiers and members of government-allied militias. The group said 15 were wounded. The different reports could not be immediately reconciled.