HAMA, Syria - Amid fears of a wave of massacres being plotted by the Islamic State Militant group (ISIS) in Shiite villages - extremists led a horrific attack in Hama province in central Syria.
ISIS is said to have carried out a horrific massacre of its prisoners - including children and women.
Reports noted that ISIS carried out raids in the province and killed over 50 people in the clashes, including at least 24 women and children.
The state news agency SANA reported that militants stormed homes in the southern part of Aqareb al-Safi village before government forces pushed them back into the desert.
In a statement, Dr. Noufal Safar, head of the National Hospital in Salamiyeh, said it received 52 bodies, including 11 women and 17 children.
According to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, at least three of the civilians, a man and his two children, were executed with knives.
It added that 52 people were killed in the fighting, with the dead including 15 civilians, 27 Syrian soldiers and 10 unidentified people.
Safar said that some of the bodies were badly mutilated, beheaded or had their limbs severed but “most appear to have died as a result of gunfire.”
Meanwhile, Rami Razzouk, a coroner at the hospital who inspected the bodies, said that at least nine children were beaten on the head with heavy objects such as bricks or stones.
ISIS is reportedly planning more atrocities in Yazidi areas - in Syria and Iraq.
Reports noted that the villages, Aqareb and Al-Mabujeh, are located near the town of Salamiyeh.
Further, the villages are close to the highway that links the capital, Damascus, to the northern city of Aleppo.
The villages house members of several religious minority sects.
In addition, Al-Mabujeh has been targeted by ISIS before.
Earlier in 2015, the group killed dozens of people and kidnapped about 50 civilians in an attack in the same village.
ISIS confirmed the attacks in a statement featured in its affiliated Aamaq news agency and said the militants captured villages of Aqareb al-Safi and Mabouja.
It said the residents were members of Assad's Alawite sect, an off-shoot of Shiite Islam.
Its statement further added that 100 Syrian troops and pro-government gunmen were killed in the fighting.
(Note this story, and the image associated with it, was modified on 28 September 2017).