DAMASCUS, April 6 (Xinhua) -- The Islamic State (IS) militants attacked a group of people in the countryside of the central Syrian province of Hama on Tuesday, killing one and kidnapping the others, state news agency SANA reported.
The IS militants attacked the civilians with rifles in the town of Saen in the eastern countryside of Salamiyeh in Hama countryside, said SANA.
Meanwhile, the pro-rebel Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the IS launched a "surprise" attack in Saen, clashing with Syrian government forces and kidnapping soldiers and civilians.
The IS captured nine Syrian police officers and 11 people from the town while around 40 others went missing, the Britain-based watchdog added.
This comes as the Russian airplanes carried out intense airstrikes on IS positions in the Syrian desert in the past 72 hours, according to the Observatory.
After losing key areas across Syria, the IS militants now have a thick presence in the sprawling desert region in eastern Syria.
The militants frequently carry out attacks and ambushes against Syrian government forces in the desert region, prompting the Syrian and Russian warplanes to bombard their positions.
Since March 2019, a total of 1,381 Syrian soldiers and pro-government fighters have been killed in IS attacks. Also, 896 IS militants were killed during the same period.