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Syrian, Russian warplanes hit market in east, kill 17 – Syrian Observatory

Syrian and Russian warplanes killed at least 17 people in an air raid on a market in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported.

The strikes hit the town of Ashara, about 60 km south-east of the provincial capital, Deir al-Zor city. Eight children were among those killed and the toll was expected to rise because of the high number of serious injuries, the Britain-based Observatory said.

Warplanes bombed other areas of Deir al-Zor province, which is mostly under the control of Islamic State. The group has laid siege since March last year to the remaining government-held areas in Deir al-Zor city.

Syrian government forces launched an offensive against IS last week starting from Hama province further west, pressing towards the jihadists’ stronghold in Raqqa province, which borders Deir al-Zor.

Deir al-Zor province links Raqqa with Iraq, where the group also controls territory.

A Syrian military source said the army had captured a crossroads in its latest offensive from which it could advance towards Raqqa, Deir al-Zor or eastern Aleppo.

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