Islamic State kills about 100 in southwest Syria attacks

Hugh Fox
July 28, 2018

Syria has only just begun to emerge from a devastating conflict that began in 2011 when the Assad regime cracked down on demonstrators with unexpected ferocity.

Mass funerals were underway for the victims on Thursday.

A statement posted on IS social media channels said militants carried out surprise attacks on government and security centres in Sweida, sparking clashes with Syrian troops and allied militias before detonating their explosive belts.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the blasts hit several areas of the largely government-held southern province of Sweida, where IS retains a presence in a northeastern desert region.

Suicide bombers struck an open-air market and other targets in the southern Syrian city of Sweida early Wednesday.

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Since then, Assad has moved to crush the last remnants of the Syrian opposition in eastern Ghouta, Homs, and the southwest countryside.

Government forces have previously retaken territories controlled by the rebels in the border area and are now fighting militants there. It is now closing in on a patch of territory in nearby Daraa province held by jihadist group Jaish Khalid bin al-Walid, which has pledged allegiance to IS.

ISIS forces control only a few towns in the south of Syria, along the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Stray rockets and mortars have landed in the Israeli Golan in the past as a result of fighting in Syria's on-going civil war.

The death toll in coordinated Islamic State group suicide bombings and shootings in southern Syria rose to almost 250 overnight, more than half of them civilians, a monitor said on Thursday.

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An activist-operated Facebook page called Sweida News Network said numerous killed were shot in the head.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks but state media, the government mouthpiece, are blaming Islamic State militants for the carnage.

Fierce clashes between the two sides have killed 49 regime fighters and 67 jihadists.

Bou Ammar, from Shbiki, said there weren't many men left to defend the village when the militants attacked. Community leaders in Sweida took a firm position against participating in the war, resisting enrolling their sons in the army to avoid revenge attacks.

The Syrian military, backed by Russian forces, recently launched an operation to drive rebel from their remaining strongholds in the south-west.

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However, Syrian state news agency SANA reported that the Syrian army led the counter-attack with support from local armed groups.

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