DAMASCUS, July 26 (Xinhua) -- The plight of Syrians,trapped in a seven-year deadly civil war, was underscored once again on Wednesday when multiple attacks on a province regarded as one of the safest places in the war-torn country killed over 200 in a single day.
At least 215 people were killed and 180 others injured in a spate of attacks carried out by the Islamic State (IS) in Sweida, marking the deadliest day for the southern province since the civil war broke out in 2011 and clashes between IS militants, pro-government forces, and residents who carried arms to defend their hometowns intensified.
The United Nations condemned the bombings, saying IS had shown an "utter disregard for human life", and called for the protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure.
"One of the bloodiest ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) attacks since the start of the war. Let that sink in," Jenan Moussa from the Dubai-based Arabic Al Aan TV commented on Twitter. "Yes, ISIS doesn't control large parts of Syria/Iraq any longer but anybody who thinks the ISIS threat is over is delusional."
Locals said IS fighters entered homes at dawn and slaughtered families in surprise attacks. The high toll also included victims killed by three suicide bombings in the provincial capital, and those who fought the IS in the province's northeastern countryside, Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
More than 6.9 million people have left Syria since the civil war started, taking refuge in 45 countries, according to data from the Russian Defense Ministry. Many are living in makeshift campsites near the Jordanian and Israeli borders without adequate shelter, food or water.
While Sweida's countryside has witnessed battles between the Syrian Army and rebels, including the IS, the city of Sweida had remained largely calm as its inhabitants are mostly from the Druze minority, a community loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.
The Sweida attacks diverted the army's attention and released the pressure in the IS-held areas in Daraa Province near the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, where the Syrian Army has been relentlessly striking the terror group. With Russia's help, the army has captured 90 percent of Daraa through battles and reconciliation.
After Wednesday's attacks, some tribal leaders in Sweida said hundreds of young men are ready to join the battle against the IS.