More than 200 people have been killed in a brutal surprise offensive by Islamic State in Syria that involved multiple suicide bombings and simultaneous raids in which militants stormed villages and slaughtered civilians.
The attacks on Wednesday targeted the city of Sweida and nearby towns and villages in south-western Syria – areas that before the war were populated mostly by members of the Druze minority sect, and that are nominally under government control but have largely stayed out of the fighting that devastated much of the country over the last seven years.
The director of health for the surrounding Sweida province told the pro-government Sham FM that 215 people had been killed in the attack.
Earlier, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor, said the death toll had reached at least 156 people, and local journalists said the number was at least 175.
The militants are also believed to have kidnapped dozens of people and taken them back to their hideouts.