Death toll climbs to 50 in southwest Syria attacks

Death toll climbs to 50 in southwest Syria attacks

Beirut (Reuters): The death toll in a series of attacks in Sweida province in southwest Syria on Wednesday has climbed to 50, foreign media reported.

It cited the head of the Sweida health authority as saying 78 people were wounded.

Northeast of Sweida city, the militants launched simultaneous attacks on several villages where they clashed with government forces, state media and a war monitor said.

In the city itself, at least two attackers blew themselves up, one near a marketplace and the second in another district, state television said. State news agency SANA said two other IS militants were killed before they could detonate their bombs.

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

Since then, President Bashar al-Assad has gone on to crush the last remaining rebel enclaves near the cities of Damascus and Homs and swept rebels from the southwest.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor said government forces battled militants who stormed the villages from an Islamic State pocket northeast of the city.

Government troops and allied forces hold all of Sweida province except for that enclave.

The air force pounded militant hideouts northeast of the city after soldiers thwarted an attempt by Islamic State fighters to infiltrate Douma, Tima and al-Matouna villages, state media said.