Damascus, July 25 (IANS) At least 50 people were killed on Wednesday in a wave of suicide bombings and gun attacks claimed by the Islamic State terror group on government-held parts of south-western Syria.
The attacks took place in and around the government-held city of Suweida, according to the state media and monitors. The IS claimed the attacks via its outlet on the messaging app Telegram.
The seemingly coordinated attacks were the deadliest in government-held territory in many months. At least 78 people were injured, reports said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based monitoring group, reported a string of suicide blasts in Suweida and in villages to the north and east. It said militants stormed homes in the villages and killed the occupants.
At least two attackers blew themselves up in the city itself, one near a marketplace and a second in another district, state television said.
The state news agency SANA said two other IS militants were killed before they could blow themselves up.
Militants attacked three villages northeast of the city, it said.
The state TV also said government forces were “targeting positions of the IS” in the countryside to the east of Suweida.
Suweida Governor Amer al-Eshi told state-run Ikhbariyah TV that the authorities had arrested another attacker. “The city of Sweida is secure and calm now,” he said.
The Syrian military, backed by Russian forces, recently launched an operation to drive the rebels from their remaining strongholds in the south-west.
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.