Pro-Syrian government fighters uncovered a mass grave with some 40 bodies —including those of women and children — in a city recaptured from ISIS militants earlier this week, state media reported.
NBC News was not immediately able to confirm the report, which emerged Friday.
The troops found the bodies, some of which had been beheaded, as they combed the area near the ancient city of Palmyra seized from ISIS on Sunday, state news agency SANA reported. The troops were continuing to pull the bodies out, according to SANA, which cited a source in the field.
SANA said the grave was in the northeastern edge of Palmyra.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the five-year-old Syrian conflict through a network of sources on the ground, said ISIS had killed a number of people at an earlier time and buried them on the outskirts of the city.
Palmyra is about 155 miles east of Damascus, the Syrian capital. Government troops, backed by allied militiamen and Russian airstrikes retook the town from ISIS militants who had controlled Palmyra and its environs for 10 months.
Ancient Palmyra is a UNESCO heritage site — an archaeological gem that attracted tens of thousands of tourists every year. An Associated Press crew visiting the town Friday witnessed firsthand the destruction inflicted by ISIS on the town's famed site, less than a mile away from the modern-day town of the same name, now completely deserted.