The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that the killings occurred over a 20 day period. The Syrian army retook the city in April 2016 after eight months of Daesh occupation. However, Daesh chased the government forces out on October 1 — but the Syrian army regrouped and returned three weeks later, recapturing the city once more with support from Russian airstrikes.
But in that three-week period, Daesh executed 128 residents of the town, which had a population of about 18,000 before the civil war started. The Palmyra Coordination Committee, a local group that supports protest and resistance against the Syrian government, reported that at least 35 of the slain were found with their bodies dumped in a mine shaft.
"After the regime retook it [on Saturday], the town's residents found the bodies on the streets. They had been shot dead or executed with knives," said Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of SOHR.
"Most of the [Daesh] fighters who attacked the town a month ago were sleeper cells. They are from the town, know the town's residents and who is for or against the regime," he added.
The more human rights groups and government forces search, the more corpses they discover. Of the Daesh executioners, one resident of the town told the Associated Press, "These are people who don't know God, they don't know anything. They killed children and women with knives, they beat women, broke their arms."
SOHR added that at least 12 residents of the town were killed by government forces after they regained control of Al-Qaryatayn.
Al-Qaryatayn had a large Christian minority, but the war has obliterated their population, as Daesh goes out of their way to target non-Muslims. Many of the town's Catholic and Orthodox Christian minorities have been abducted or killed or have fled the area, reducing the Christian population from 2,000 to a few hundred.
The ancient oasis town, believed to have been populated by people since 1,750 BC, was used by Daesh to protect the nearby city of Palmyra, which they captured in May 2015. After trading hands multiple times, the Syrian Army retook Palmyra seemingly for good in March 2017.
It is also close to Deir ez-Zor, the largest city in eastern Syria and one of Daesh's final strongholds in Syria until last month. Government forces beset the riverside town in September 2017 and have wrested nearly the entire region from Daesh control.