At least 50 people have been killed in a wave of suicide bombings and gun attacks in southern Syria, while some reports putting the death toll as high as more than 100 dead.
Health officials provided the initial death toll of 50 people in and around the southern, government-held city of Suweida on Wednesday. A monitoring group suggested the actual number of people killed could be much higher, exceeding 100 people.
Islamic State militants claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Pro-government forces were later reportedly involved in gun battles and skirmishes with militants east of the city.
The Russian-backed Syrian government forces have launched a campaign in recent months to reclaim much of the remaining rebel-held territory in the war-torn country’s south.
Wednesday’s reportedly coordinated attacks were the deadliest in government-held areas for months.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, reported a string of suicide blasts in Suweida and in villages to the north and east. It said militants stormed homes and killed occupants in the villages they attacked.
According to the group, at least 114 people died, mostly pro-government fighters, but also including more than 40 civilians.
Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told the AFP news agency: “It’s the bloodiest death toll in Suweida province since the start of the war [in 2011].”
The Suweida health authority put the death toll at around 50, with a further 80 people wounded, al-Manar TV reported.