BEIRUT – The Latest on developments in Syria (all times local):
Russia says it has sent working groups to Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey to help coordinate the return of refugees to Syria.
The groups are to conduct "detailed analysis of aspects of the return of refugees to Syria," Col. Gen. Mikhail Mizintsev of the Defense Ministry said at a briefing Wednesday.
Mizintsev said no refugees should be sent back to Syria unwillingly.
"In taking active steps for concluding agreements with foreign partners about cooperation on refugees' return to their places of permanent residence, we are continuing to adhere to the principle that the return of refugees to their homeland should be exclusively voluntary and in secure conditions," he said.
He added that Russia wanted to ensure the return of refugee children by the beginning of the school year on Sept. 1
The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for a series of deadly attacks and suicide blasts in southern Syrian city of Sweida that killed dozens of people.
IS says in a statement posted on the group's social media channels that its "soldiers" carried out surprise attacks on government and security centers in Sweida on Wednesday.
The bombings — including a suicide attack at a busy vegetable market and a city square — sparked clashes later in the day between Syrian troops and allied militias and IS militants.
IS says more than 100 people were killed.
A Syrian local health official said the bombings and coordinated attacks, and subsequent fighting between local armed groups and militants in Sweida killed over 90 in all.
A Syrian local health official says a series of suicide bombings and coordinated attacks, and subsequent fighting between local armed groups and militants in southern Syria have killed over 90 people in all.
Hassan Omar told The Associated Press that as many as 80 people were wounded in Wednesday's attacks and clashes, which the government blamed on Islamic State militants.
State-run news agency SANA earlier reported some of the attacks, including suicide bombings in the city of Sweida, a provincial capital populated by Syria's minority Druze.
It put the death toll for those attacks and others elsewhere in the surrounding province, also called Sweida, at 38.
The bombings appear to have sparked fighting between local armed groups that killed dozens of others, including IS militants.
A series of suicide bombings and attacks in southern Syria — including a motorcycle bomber who struck at a busy vegetable market — have killed 38 people.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks but state media, the government mouthpiece, are blaming Islamic State militants for the carnage.
The coordinated attacks in the city of Sweida, a provincial capital populated by Syria's minority Druze, were the worst in recent months and had all the hallmarks of IS.
The bombings were apparently timed to coincide with attacks by a militant group linked to IS on a number of villages in the province, also called Sweida.