Islamic State militants killed scores of people in a series of attacks on government-held parts of southwestern Syria on Wednesday, including multiple suicide blasts in Sweida city, official sources said.
It's the worst violence to hit the area since the country's conflict began.
Clashes between Syrian government forces and Islamic State militants then continued throughout the day in the eastern countryside of Sweida province.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 246, including 135 civilians and 111 members of local militias who fought IS militants who swarmed their villages. The others were killed in suicide attacks in the provincial capital.
The overwhelming majority of the dead "were in (Sweida's) northern countryside, where the bodies of civilians executed inside their homes were found", Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Ariel Schalit Smoke and explosions from the fighting between forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad and rebels in southern Syria as seen from the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.
The government controls nearly all of Sweida province but IS retains a presence in desert areas of its north and east. The Israeli-occupied Golan Heights has never been recognised by the worldwide community.
Israel's strike in Syrian territory on July 25 hit terrorists and missile systems of the Islamic State, the Russian defense ministry said on Thursday.
The Damascus regime has long accused Israel of backing IS, which overran large parts of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014 but has since lost most of that territory.
Most of the victims were killed in raids on villages in the northeast of the province.
The abduction of civilians - activists say at least 14 were women - also were reminiscent of the group's tactic of taking hostages and using women as sex slaves.
The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. They have managed to liberate dozens of villages and towns from foreign-backed militants.
Hezbollah offered condolences to the people of Sweida in particular and all Syrians in general, as he praised the courage of the Syrian Army soldiers and the locals who confronted the terrorist attacks and foiled them.
The Syrian military, backed by Russian forces, recently launched an operation to drive the rebels from their remaining strongholds in the south-west.
State television also reported casualties in villages to the north and east, adding that the army was "targeting positions of the Daesh (ISIS) terrorist group".
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