Syrian army makes progress in battles against IS in Sweida province

Source: Xinhua| 2018-08-08 00:39:39|Editor: Li Xia
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DAMASCUS, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- The Syrian government forces are making progress in the battles against the Islamic State (IS) in the southern province of Sweida, the group's last strongholds in southern Syria, a war monitor reported on Tuesday.

The battles are raging in the eastern and northeastern desert region of Sweida in a bid by the Syrian government forces to end the presence of IS in its last strongholds in southern Syria, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The Britain-based watchdog group said the army is advancing under intense fire cover from artillery and airstrikes in areas east and northeast of Sweida.

The government forces have also apprehended an IS fighter after midnight Tuesday during a suicide attack launched by IS on a position held by the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), which is a pro-Syrian government group.

The observatory said four members of the SSNP were killed in the suicide bombing, adding that the people in Sweida hanged the IS fighter that was caught in the midnight incident.

The situation in Sweida flared since July 25, when IS fighters launched a surprise attack on towns in the eastern countryside of Sweida and suicide bombing inside the city.

The attacks and bombing led to the killing of over 255 people, the highest death toll in Sweida since the beginning of the Syrian crisis over seven years ago.

The locals with the help of the army managed to push back IS, which kidnapped 30 people during the offensive.

The Syrian forces unleashed an assault on desert areas east of Sweida on Sunday, managing to make progress amid fears for the lives of the hostages after the IS militants executed one of the abductees, who was a 19-year-old man.

The IS militants launched their offensive on Sweida to release the pressure on their comrades in the nearby countryside of Daraa.

The observatory said negotiations were taking place between IS and the Syrian forces for the release of the hostages from IS custody in exchange for the acceptance of the Syrian army to grant a safe passage for dozens of IS militants trapped in the countryside of Daraa near Sweida.

However, the negotiations have resulted in nothing but more confrontation as IS executed its first hostage on Thursday amid fears for the lives of the rest of the 30 hostages.

The Syrian army seems to be determined to root out IS from the desert east of Sweida after the mass deaths of people during the July 25 attack.