Suicide bombers struck an open-air market and other targets in the southern Syrian city of Sweida early Wednesday in four attacks. The attacks were just one element of the violence to hit the area on Wednesday. Describing a chaotic scene, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says pro-regime militants and armed villagers also clashed with ISIS fighters in and around Sweida whose attacks were apparently timed to coincide with the bombings Wednesday morning. Authorities “hunted down two terrorist suicide bombers who had been wearing explosive belts and killed them before they were able to blow themselves up in the residential areas in the city.”
Wednesday’s wave of attacks was the deadliest on government-held territory in months. “It’s the bloodiest death toll in Suweida province since the start of the war [in 2011],” observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told to media. State TV said government forces were “targeting positions of the Daesh [IS] terrorist group” in countryside to the east of Suweida. Around 10 million people lived in IS-controlled areas, but the US military said earlier this year that the jihadist group had been ousted from 98% of its former territory. On Wednesday, Russia-backed government forces were also reported to be bombarding pockets of IS-held territory in Deraa, west of Suweida.