95 die as Syrian jets hit IS ‘capital’

The ruins of a market square in Raqqa after an attack by aircraft of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's air force. Picture: AP
The ruins of a market square in Raqqa after an attack by aircraft of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's air force. Picture: AP
Share this article
4
Have your say

The death toll from a series of Syrian government airstrikes on the Islamic State group’s stronghold in north-eastern Syria has risen to at least 95, making it one of the deadliest attacks on the city of Raqqa in the past three years.

Some of the airstrikes struck a popular market near a museum and an industrial neighborhood, causing many civilian casualties. it was yesterday reported.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights raised its death toll last night to 95.

Its director, Rami Abdurrahman, said they include 52 civilians whose names the group was able to document. They include three women and four children, he said. At least 120 others were wounded in the strikes, according to the group. Mr Abdulrahman said ten war planes struck at least ten times in Raqqa.

Other activists, including the opposition activist network Local Co-ordination Committees and a Raqqa-based collective called Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered, estimated more than 100 people had been killed. It was not clear how many militants were among those killed.

The killings, on Tuesday, make it one of the worst single-day tolls in the city, which has been completely under the control of Islamic State (IS) since January. The group made the city capital of the caliphate it proclaimed in June and governs it according to a strict interpretation of Islamic law.

One activist from Raqqa said the only hospital still functioning in Raqqa was finding it difficult to cope with the dozens of wounded.

The eyewitness said: “All the markets in the city closed after the air strikes. There is nobody walking in the streets – it’s just like a zombie film.

“There are a lot of dead bodies and injured. There are just a few doctors and because of that there are a lot of people dying from their wounds.”

Officials warned of a rising number of casualties dying because of a “severe shortage of drugs, medical equipment and medical staff”.

The Syrian government as well as the US-led coalition frequently bomb IS targets in Raqqa, but it is not known what prompted Tuesday’s unusually intense attacks.

IS has killed hundreds of Syrian soldiers in the past few months, and recently posted a video showing what it said was the beheading of more than a dozen Syrian soldiers, including officers.

CONNECT WITH THE SCOTSMAN

Subscribe to our daily newsletter (requires registration) and get the latest news, sport and business headlines delivered to your inbox every morning

• You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google +

In Iraq, security forces backed by Sunni tribesmen repelled an assault by IS militants on a government complex in the center of Ramadi, the provincial capital of western Anbar province, said officials.

Soldiers, supported by army helicopters, were able to fend off the attack, according to the officials.

IS militants have overrun a large part of Anbar province in a push to expand their territory. The group now controls about a third of Syria and Iraq, declaring the territory as part of its self-described caliphate.

In a separate development on Tuesday, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos said 12.2 million Syrians needed assistance because of increasing violence and deteriorating conditions, up from 10.8 million in July.

Baroness Amos told the UN Security Council that cross-border deliveries of aid to rebel-held areas without Syrian government approval had “made a difference” and urged member states to extend the authorisation for them beyond 9 January.

However, she warned that the UN was still failing to get enough aid to the 212,000 people living under siege – 185,000 by government forces and 26,500 by rebels.

The UN says 7.6 million people had been displaced inside Syria and 3.2 million have fled abroad since the uprising against president Bashar al-Assad began in 2011.

SCOTSMAN TABLET AND IPHONE APPS

• Download your free 30-day trial for our iPad, Android and Kindle apps

Keep up to date with all aspects of Scottish life with The Scotsman iPhone app, completely free to download and use