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Russia denies targeting Syrian market in airstrike

Russian warplanes did not hit the Syrian town of Ashara in the eastern province of Deir ez-Zor on Monday where at least 17 people were reportedly killed in an air raid, Russia’s Defence Ministry said in a statement.

“Russia’s air forces did not carry out any combat missions in the area,” Russian news agencies quoted Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov as saying.

However, local rights’ activists reported that Syrian and Russian warplanes killed at least 17 people in an air raid on a market in Ashara.

Eight children were among those killed and the toll was expected to rise, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. The strikes on al-Asharah, a town held by ISIS in Deir ez-Zor province, were suspected to have been carried out by either Russian or Syrian government planes, the source said.

Residents of nearby villages typically flock to al-Asharah market to do their shopping, according to the Observatory.

Heavy airstrikes reportedly hit ISIS-held areas in and outside the divided city of Deir ez-Zzor from early Monday.

The Islamic State (ISIS) controls more than 60 percent of the city, besieging an estimated 200,000 people there. The radical group also controls most of the surrounding oil-rich province of Deir ez-Zor.

Russia began carrying out strikes in Syria in September 2015, one year after the United States began its air campaign there.

Last Friday, Syrian regime airstrikes killed at least 15 civilians in the ISIS-held area of Boleel outside Deir ez-Zor city, according to local media sources.


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