The city of Daraa al-Balad in southern Syria (NPA)

At least 17 people were killed on Sunday in clashes between rival armed groups in southern Syria, a day after at least seven children perished in a blast.

A police official said an “explosive device” was detonated in the city of Sanamayn in Daraa Province on Saturday. Militia leader Ahmad al-Labbad was accused by a rival group of planting the IED.

Labbad, who formerly worked for the Assad regime’s security services, denied the accusations. However, the rival group confronted Labbad and his supporters in Sanamayn.

The 17 dead reportedly includes three members of the Labbad family, 12 of the group’s fighters, a former member of the Islamic State, and a civilian slain by a stray bullet.

Daraa was the site of Syria’s first mass protests in March 2011, after Assad regime officials imprisoned and abused teenage boys who sprayed graffiti on walls in Daraa city.

Much of the province was held by opposition groups during the uprising. Russia and Iran enabled the Assad regime to reoccupy the area by 2018, but there has been no return to stability or security.

Instead, hundreds of people were killed in violence last year. Another 83 incidents this year have slain 100.