Image captionImages of the aftermath of the attacks were broadcast by state media

At least 50 people have died in a wave of suicide bombings and gun attacks in southern Syria, reports say.

The attacks took place in and around the government-held city of Suweida on Wednesday, state media and monitors reported. The Islamic State (IS) group has been blamed for the violence.

Pro-government forces are reported to be fighting militants east of the city.

The Syrian government, backed by Russia, has retaken control of much of southern Syria in recent months.

Wednesday’s apparently co-ordinated attacks were the deadliest on government-held territory in months, correspondents say.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, reported a string of suicide blasts in Suweida, south of the capital Damascus, and in villages to the north and east. It said militants stormed homes in the villages and killed the occupants.

At least 32 pro-government fighters and 22 civilians were killed, said the observatory’s head, Rami Abdel Rahman. More than 20 IS fighters also died, he told AFP news agency.

Media captionUS-backed forces may be celebrating, but IS has not been defeated

State news agency Sana reported one suicide attack at a market in Suweida and said security forces had killed two other attackers before they could blow themselves up. Militants also attacked three villages north-east of the city, it said.

The report gave no casualty figures but said a number of people had been “martyred”.

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

Later, Suweida governor Amer al-Eshi told state-run Ikhbariyah TV that the city was now “secure and calm”.

He said authorities had arrested one of the attackers.

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

On Wednesday, Russia-backed government forces were also reported to be bombarding pockets of IS-held territory in Daraa, west of Suweida.

At least 270,000 people have fled their homes in the region as fighting continues, the UN says.

On Sunday, Israel allowed the evacuation of hundreds of White Helmets civil defence workers who were trapped in a war zone in southern Syria.

The Syrian government condemned the move, describing it as a “criminal operation” by Israel and others.

BBC