DAMASCUS - The Syrian army advanced Thursday in the battles against the Islamic State (IS) in the group's last stronghold in the desert of Sweida province in southern Syria, state news agency SANA reported. The battles are taking place in an extremely rugged area in the Tulol al-Safa hills in the depth of the eastern desert of Sweida, said SANA, adding that the army captured a number of caves and cliffs as well as a number of IS posts that were used by snipers. The battles are coupled with artillery shelling and airstrikes targeting the IS positions in that area, where the IS has become cornered as a result of the military campaign that has started in July.

The military campaign in the eastern countryside of Sweida came against the backdrop of a massive IS attack on villages in Sweida, where the terror-designated group killed civilians and carried out suicide bombings in the provincial capital of Sweida. A total of 260 people were killed between civilians and local fighters who attempted to defend themselves and their families in that province near Jordan.

The IS militants also abducted over 30 civilians to an unknown destination. The kidnaped people appeared in several videos calling for their release.

The IS killed a 19-year-old young man and a woman died of her medical condition while in the IS captivity.

People of Sweida have been calling on the authorities to help in securing the release of their relatives from the grip of IS.

The army kept advancing in eastern Sweida until encircling the IS militants in the Tulol al-Safa hills in the eastern countryside of Sweida near the provincial border of the capital Damascus but the battles are difficult there as the area is extremely rough.