Nine regime fighters killed in blast in south Syria
A roadside bomb killed at least nine pro-regime fighters on Saturday on a bus in Daraa, the cradle of Syria's nine-year-old uprising, a war monitor said.
The attack in the village of Kihel in the southern province of Daraa also wounded 19 others, some of them critically, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The casualties were members of a group of former rebels who surrendered at the initiative of regime ally Russia to form part of the army.
There was no immediate claim for the bombing, in a province where both former rebel fighters and regime forces have been targeted by attacks.
In early May, unknown gunmen abducted and killed nine policemen in a rare attack on a government building.
Russia-backed regime fighters captured Daraa from rebels in 2018, in a symbolic blow to the anti-government uprising which started there in 2011, after the regime arrested and tortured children who had painted anti-Assad graffiti on walls.
Some of the regime’s institutions have since returned but the army is still not deployed in the whole province.
Many former rebels stayed instead of accepting forced evacuation under a Moscow-brokered deal, either joining regime forces or remaining in control of parts of the province.
The Islamic State group has in the past claimed attacks in the area. Last July, IS said it killed six soldiers at a checkpoint. Islamic State militants are still active in the Syrian Desert, despite losing all the territory they once held in eastern Syria.
Syria's conflict has killed more than 500,000 people and displaced millions since it started with anti-Assad protests in 2011. Most of the casualties have been as a result of regime bombardment of civilian areas.