Despite being rooted out from most of their territory in Syria and Iraq, that Islamic State as a terrorist organisation is still capable of carrying out massive attacks was driven home when suicide bombers affiliated to the radical Islamic group killed 200 people in the country’s south-west province of Sweida.
This is the Islamic State group's deadliest attack in Syria in years. The suicide bomb blasts were a co-ordinated attack on the province which due to being under Syrian government control has been insulated from large scale violence. The attacks were carried out in the provincial capital, and coincided with attacks on villages in the province’s countryside, creating mayhem across the area.
By nightfall, the province's health directorate had recorded 215 civilians killed and 180 wounded, according to local official Hassan Omar, making it the single bloodiest day for the province since the 2011 national revolt against President Bashar Al-Assad that sparked the ongoing civil war.
According to locals, Islamic State fighters also kidnapped residents of villages. The victims number atleast 40 and are mostly women and children.
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. IS claimed responsibility for the violence, saying “soldiers of the caliphate” attacked Syrian government positions and security outposts in Sweida city, then detonated explosive belts.
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.
The bloodshed came almost a week into a Russia-backed Syrian government campaign to oust IS fighters from a holdout in a neighbouring province of the country’s south.
Those residing in the province of Sweida are mostly from the Druze minority community.