More than 100 Syrian regime members, allies and civilians were killed Wednesday following a series of attacks in southwestern Syria, a war monitor said, with at least 38 killed by suicide bombings in the pro-regime city of Sweida.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said three bombers with suicide belts, who were believed to be members of the "Islamic State" (IS), targeted a number of areas inside the city.
Read more: The rise of the 'Islamic State'
What we know so far:
- More than 100 people are dead after suicing bombings and other attacks and many more are wounded.
- One suicide bomb went off in a market area.
- Two other attackers were chased by security before blowing themselves up.
- State media also reported more casualties in the fighting in several villages to the northeast of Sweida.
- IS claimed responsiblity for the attacks.
IS changing tactics: IS has lost swathes of territory in Syria due to offensives carried out by Russian-backed government forces. In Sweida, where the most recent suicide bomb attacks happened, the Syrian government holds all of the city except for one IS-occupied pocket in the northeast. The change has seen IS militants opt for isolated terrorist attacks, such as suicide bombings, in an attempt to avoid larger battlefield conflicts.
Regime offensive in the south: The attacks come as a Syrian government offensive is being carried out west of Sweida, where troops are fighting an IS-affiliated group near the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights area and other areas in the south. On Saturday Syrian forces closed in on the southwestern area of rebel-held Quneitra province after Russian forces negotiated a deal with rebels that saw hundreds of militants and their families evacuated from the area.
International aid: The suicide bombings occurred days after aid provided by France and Russia arrived in the country in the first joint humanitarian aid operation between Russia and a Western country. The operation was agreed upon by Putin and Macron during talks in Saint Petersburg in May. It included medicine, medical equipment, clothes and tents, and was to be given to residents of eastern Ghouta on the edge of the capital, Damascus.
law/aw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)