Dozens dead after airstrikes on IS stronghold

Dozens dead after airstrikes on IS stronghold
Air raids on the Islamic State group's Syrian stronghold in Raqqa have killed at least 39 civilians, a monitoring group has said.
1 min read
19 March, 2016
Syria, backed by Russia, has escalated its offensive on IS militants [Getty]
At least 39 civilians were killed when an air raid targeted Raqqa, the Islamic State group's main stronghold in Syria, a monitoring group said on Saturday.

At least five children and seven women were among the dead, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

At least 16 other civilians were killed when airstrikes hit the same city the day before.

"We cannot know whether the latest strikes on Raqqa are by Syrian or Russian warplanes," said Observatory Director Rami Abdel Rahman.

"What is clear is that their goal is to try to paralyse IS and to stop it from deploying reinforcements from Raqaa to the Palmyra area," he told AFP.

Palmyra, home to famed Roman ruins, has been under the firm control of IS since the extremists captured it in May last year.

In October, the 2,000-year-old Arch of Triumph was destroyed, and activists have said that it was IS extremists who blew up the ancient treasure.

Russia intensified airstrikes on Friday in support of Syrian regime advances in the historic town in attempt to push out Islamic State group militants.

More than a dozen air raids have pounded Palmyra since Friday morning.