Damascus, July 25 (IANS) The Islamic State terror organization killed at least 183 people, both combatants and civilians, in fighting and suicide bombings in southern Syria on Wednesday, a war monitor said in a report.
UK-based war monitor Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that IS militants killed 89 civilians in dawn attacks on villages near the city of Suweida, the capital of the southern province of the same name.
The SOHR said that 94 combatants were killed while fighting IS, claiming “most of them (were) people of villages in Suweida countryside, who took up arms to repel the violent and surprising attack of the terror group, which stretched on a 20-kilometre-long front”, Efe news reported.
IS later claimed responsibility for the attacks via the group’s outlet on the messaging app Telegram.
The Syrian government’s official news agency SANA reported that one suicide bomber detonated his explosives in a market in Suweida, while two other bombers were killed by security forces.
However, the SOHR claimed at least four bombers had carried out attacks in the city and added that some civilians were taken prisoner by IS militants and moved to desert areas controlled by the terror organization north of the provincial capital.
Later, Suweida Governor Amer al-Eshi told state-run Ikhbariyah TV that the authorities had arrested another attacker and said that “the city of Sweida was secure and calm now”.
The attack by the IS came as Syrian government forces backed by Russian airpower continued their month-long military offensive to recover territory in southwest Syria bordering Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.
On Wednesday, Russia-backed government forces were also reported to be bombarding pockets of IS-held territory in Daraa, west of Suweida, the BBC said.
At least 270,000 people fled their homes in the region as the fighting continued, the UN said.
On Sunday, Israel allowed the evacuation of hundreds of White Helmets civil defence workers who were trapped in a war zone in southern Syria.
The Syrian government condemned the move, describing it as a “criminal operation” by Israel and others.