BEIRUT: Militants from ISIS killed at least 15 people in Deir al-Zor province as part of a recent uptick in violence between locals and the al-Qaeda splinter group, an anti-regime monitoring group said Monday.
The clashes, including ISIS’ shelling of three villages where the Sheaitat tribe is dominant, killed 13 civilians and tribal fighters, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based group.
The Observatory said tribal fighters withdrew from two villages, al-Jurdi al-Sharqieh and al-Jurdi al-Gharbieh, after two of them were killed battling ISIS militants.
A number of attacks on ISIS militants have taken place in recent weeks in eastern Deir al-Zor province, in a string of villages and towns lying on the Euphrates River.
The Sheaitat tribe rose up against ISIS last week after the militants detained several members of the tribe, leading to bloody clashes.
Anti-regime sources say that in addition to tribesmen, a number of clandestine “hit squads” have formed to carry out attacks on ISIS in the wake of its sweeping gains in the province last month.
Clashes were also reported in the village of Swaidan.
The Observatory said residents began returning to the area after the fighting subsided. ISIS conducted a series of arrests and searches for weapons and “wanted men” in the village, the Observatory said.
Also, residents of the town of Al-Bukamal on the Iraqi border on Sunday night staged a demonstration demanding the exit of ISIS from the entirety of Deir al-Zor province. ISIS Monday arrested a number of people in connection with the demonstration, the Observatory said.
In the city of Deir al-Zor, the Observatory said ISIS warned locals to avoid its various headquarters because it was being targeted by regime forces and “saboteurs,” a possible reference to the attacks of recent weeks.
The Observatory said that the government carried out air and artillery strikes against ISIS positions in Deir al-Zor and next-door Raqqa province, but there was little information about casualties.
Elsewhere in Deir al-Zor, some 5,000 people have fled several villages because of heavy regime shelling, the Observatory said, describing difficult conditions including lack of drinking water or shelter for the displaced.
In Damascus, a second straight day of rebel mortar bomb attacks killed at least three people and wounded several others, the Observatory said, identifying a rebel group, the Anjad Union, as being behind the campaign.
The strikes targeted several neighborhoods of the city, from Tabbaleh in the east to Mazzeh in the west, and struck near the Customs Authority at Omayyad Square, the Observatory said.
The monitoring group also said the toll in regime air raids around the capital Sunday night had risen from 32 to 50.
Twenty were killed in Douma, northeast of Damascus, and another 30 in Kfar Batna, the group said.
The Observatory put Sunday’s nationwide death toll at 243 people, of whom 83 were civilians.