About 20 truffle gatherers killed over 24 hours in Syria

Individuals harvesting truffles in eastern Syria - March 6, 2023 (Al-Sukhna Al-Hadath/Facebook)

Individuals harvesting truffles in eastern Syria - March 6, 2023 (Al-Sukhna Al-Hadath/Facebook)


14 truffle gatherers in the Raqqa desert were killed when a landmine exploded in the vehicle carrying them, in addition to eight injured who were transferred for treatment, in what is the third incident of its kind within 24 hours.

The official Syrian news agency (SANA), on Sunday, February 25, reported that 14 civilians were killed and another eight wounded due to a landmine explosion in the Raqqa desert while they were collecting truffles.

The agency quoted the governor of Raqqa, Abd al-Razzaq Khalifa, saying that the explosion occurred while some civilians were collecting truffles in the Raqqa desert, noting that the injured are currently receiving treatment and are in good condition.

While the governor did not provide details of the incident, activists and news accounts, including “Alsharqia 24” shared a video on social media showing a damaged vehicle following a landmine explosion, which resulted in fatalities and injuries.

The Raqqa Media Center, an opposition news account, stated that most of the victims were women from the town of Mansoura in the western countryside of Raqqa, indicating that the mine exploded in the Jabal al-Tar al-Subaei area south of the al-Rassafa region.

This incident is the third of its kind within 24 hours. Two members of the Syrian regime forces were killed while collecting truffles, according to the Naher Media website, which focuses on news from the Deir Ezzor governorate.

The site added that the victims were Abdul Wahab al-Harous, 27 years old, and Rafe al-Hussein, 40 years old, pointing out that a landmine exploded in the Shula area in the western Deir Ezzor desert.

Hours earlier, five civilians were killed while harvesting truffles in the Aqrabyat area east of the Salamiyah region in the eastern countryside of Hama, following a landmine explosion, according to SANA.

Truffle harvesting is one of the important seasonal agricultural activities in the eastern region of Syria and a source of livelihood for many families, especially those living in the desert regions extending between the south and the north of Syria, along the Iraqi border.

Truffle gathering activity has been accompanied by many risks over the past years, as large groups of farmers and truffle enthusiasts have been kidnapped, and a number have been killed. However, this activity continues to this day.

Among the major hazards faced by truffle gatherers are mine explosions, which, alongside other remnants of war, are among the leading causes of death for workers in this field.

Truffle gatherers in eastern Syria have been subjected to various attacks, the most prominent of which occurred in February 2023, when 53 civilians were killed in an attack that was blamed on the Islamic State organization according to official narratives, while they were collecting truffles, besides dozens of missing people including police force members, southeast of the city of al-Sukhna in the eastern countryside of Homs.

Opponents accuse the Syrian regime and Iranian militias of being behind these attacks and targeting, while there is no information from an impartial source regarding the responsibility for these incidents.


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