Last updated: 6 September, 2014

Jihadists among 35 dead in Syria air raids

Syrian air strikes in the jihadist-held northern city of Raqa on Saturday killed 35 people, including 15 Islamic State (IS) members, a monitoring group said.

“Regime warplanes carried out eight air strikes targeting Raqa and its surroundings,” said Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman.

At least 20 civilians, including a woman and three children, and 15 jihadists were killed. Eight of the victims were from a single family.

The strikes come amid a stepped-up campaign by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime targeting IS positions in northern and eastern Syria.

Activists say such air raids often kill many civilians as well as jihadists.

Similar strikes on Tuesday in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor killed 16 people including 10 children.

Among the targets on Saturday were a building housing an IS Islamic court and a training camp.

Twenty of the dead were killed when a bakery was hit.

The Islamic State group first emerged in Syria’s war in late spring 2013, when it was named the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Its horrific abuses, including near-daily public executions, have made it widely feared in areas it controls, but activists say people stay silent for fear of reprisals.

In a separate development, the Observatory said the number of people killed in a Friday air strike targeting a Syrian rebel-held area of Aleppo city in the north has risen to 15.

Insurgent areas of Aleppo have come under massive aerial bombardment since December, killing hundreds of people and prompting tens of thousands to flee to safety.

The regime has kept up its offensive despite a UN Security Council resolution in February condemning such strikes.

And east of Damascus, regime troops backed by Lebanese Hezbollah fighters made another gain against rebel forces by taking the village of Hteitet Jarash, the Observatory said.

The village is near Mleiha, a former rebel bastion that fell to government control in mid-August after several months of fierce fighting and near-daily bombardment.

Hteitet Jarash is in the Eastern Ghouta area, which the army has besieged for more than a year.

Syria’s war began in March 2011 as a peaceful protest movement demanding Assad’s ouster, but morphed into a brutal war after the regime unleashed a massive crackdown against dissent.

The United Nations says at least 191,000 people have been killed in the more than three-year conflict.