A week after ousting the Islamic State (IS) from Palmyra, Syrian troops have reportedly made a gruesome discovery amid the ruins of ancient desert city: A mass grave containing around 40 bodies, including many women and children.

According to Syrian state news agency SANA, the soldiers found the grave last Sunday on the city’s northeastern edge. The report said many of the victims were beheaded.

After IS captured Palmyra last May, it ruled the city — a world heritage site and desert oasis known for its Roman-era temples, colonnades, and theatres — with an iron fist. Palmyra’s famed Roman amphitheater was used for public executions, and IS infamously released a video last year that showed the simultaneous execution of 25 Syrian government soldiers by young militants in front of the site’s Roman columns while hundreds of people watched.

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Image courtesy of Reuters