Syrian Druze bury dead as anger over Islamic State attacks grows

Charlene Craig
July 28, 2018

Islamic State militants killed more than 200 people in a coordinated assault on a government-held area of southwestern Syria on Wednesday, local officials and a war monitor said, in the group's deadliest attack in the country for years.

After decades of calm, tensions began flaring up in the Golan with the 2011 uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime.

Mass funerals were underway for the victims on Thursday.

At least 166 people were killed in a suicide bombing and attacks that took place in the southern province of Suwayda, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Syria tweeted.

A local fighter in Suwayda province on Wednesday
A local fighter in Suwayda province on Wednesday

Government forces have previously retaken territories controlled by the rebels in the border area and are now fighting militants there.

The jihadists still hold some territory in Syria's south, including in Sweida and another isolated but larger patch in neighbouring Daraa province, to the west. The Syrian government is in full control of the Golan Heights along the entire frontier with Jordan.

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. At least 135 civilians were among the killed, the Observatory said.

State news also said three Islamic State militants were stopped by Syrian security forces before they could carry out their attacks.

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The attacks by the Islamic State terrorist group occur after the Syrian army recovered much of the southern territories of Daraa and Quneitra.

The attacks came nearly a week into a deadly Russia-backed regime campaign to oust IS fighters from a holdout in a neighbouring province of the country's south.

One suicide bomber blew himself in a vegetable market as vendors were arriving to sell their produce while others were killed before they could detonate their bombs on a hospital in attacks that has sent shockwaves across the community.

It said dozens of IS militants were also killed in the clashes.

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In a meeting with Russia's special envoy on Syria Alexander Lavrentiev in Damascus on Wednesday, Assad lashed out at the states that are backing terrorist groups in Syria.

Sweida Governor Amer al-Eshi said authorities also arrested another attacker.

The Syrian government condemned the move, describing it as a "criminal operation" by Israel and others.

"Sweida city and surrounding towns in the Syrian Arab Republic were subjected to a risky terrorist operation perpetrated by ISIS gangs".

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