Syrian government troops have found a mass grave with as many as 40 bodies in Palmyra city, which was recaptured from the Islamic State militant group on March 27, Reuters reported quoting state news agency SANA. The grave, which contained bodies of many women and children, was found in the north-eastern fringes of the ancient city. The news report suggested that some of the bodies had been beheaded, while RT News said many were tortured before they were killed. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the militant group had killed a number of people earlier and buried them in the outskirts of the city.

An offensive to retake Palmyra, backed by Russian airstrikes, was launched in March. The city, which was a UNESCO World Heritage site, is located strategically between Damascus and the contested eastern city in Syria, Deir al-Zour. The Islamic State's destruction of two 2,000-year-old temples, including the Temple of Baalshamin in August 2015, was condemned worldwide. The United Nations had called it a war crime and an “immense loss for the Syrian people and for humanity”.