More than 220 dead in IS attacks on southern Syria's Sweida

Authorities chased and killed two other attackers there before they could also blow themselves

Scores of people were killed Wednesday in a suicide bombing when a suicide bomber targeted a marketplace in the regime-controlled city of Sweida, the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) reported.

A mass funeral was held in the city of Sweida on Thursday where men gathered in a hall to pay their respects to the dead.

State TV also said government forces were "targeting positions of the Daesh (IS) terrorist group" in countryside to the east of Sweida.

According to SOHR, IS fighters reportedly seized control of three of seven villages that they had attacked on Wednesday morning, but local armed groups fighting alongside Syrian pro-government forces had reclaimed the villages in a counter-offensive hours later. The Observatory also reported a series of suicide blasts and the clashes in the province's countryside.

The rare attacks in Sweida came amid a government offensive elsewhere in the country's south.

Pro-government forces ousted IS from urban centres in eastern Syria past year, but IS raids in recent months have killed dozens of regime and allied fighters.

But this month it became a new front for advancing Syrian forces after they re-established their authority over most of neighboring Daraa province.

The carnage sparked clashes later in the day between Syrian troops and allied militias and IS militants.

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Although the group has largely been defeated across Syria and Iraq, it still holds pockets of territory.

The attacks also killed 94 regime fighters, most of whom were residents who had picked up weapons to defend their villages as well as 30 ISIS fighters, including the attackers.

The attacks came nearly a week into a deadly Russia-backed regime campaign to oust IS fighters from a holdout in a neighbouring province of the country's south. An initial investigation suggested the Islamic State was responsible for the rockets.

"Today's crime shows that countries supporting terrorism are trying to breathe life back into the terrorist organization to keep it as a card in their hand that they will use to achieve political gains", he said.

The regime of President Bashar al-Assad has in recent weeks ousted rebels from a majority of the country's south, part of which borders the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

SOHR and Syrian official media said that suicide attacks were conducted in a Sweida market and other villages in the province of the same name at the same time.

The Syrian military, backed by Russian forces, recently launched an operation to drive rebel from their remaining strongholds in the south-west.

The Islamic State took credit for carrying out the attacks, the BBC reported.

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