The attack occurred late Monday in the rural Tulul al-Safa area of the province, some 100 kilometres (60 miles) southeast of Damascus, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Eight jihadists were also killed in subsequent clashes in the area, which is the jihadists’ last bastion in Sweida, the Observatory said.
State news agency SANA reported heavy clashes with IS in the area, adding that government aircraft and artillery “targeted hideouts and positions” held by the group.
Government forces have been fighting IS in Sweida’s arid plains since jihadists carried out a wave of attacks in the mainly Druze province on July 25, killing 250 people according to the Observatory. During their rampage, which targeted the provincial capital as well as rural areas, the jihadists also seized around 30 hostages, mostly women and their children.
At least 27 are believed to still be held, according to Human Rights Watch, after IS said it had beheaded a 19-year-old man and announced an elderly woman had died. Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said the hostages were believed to be held captive in the Tulul al-Safa area. A source in Sweida told AFP that families had had no word of their kidnapped relatives in weeks.
Published in Daily Times, September 12th 2018.