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BEIRUT Nov 20 Russian and Syrian warplanes
launched dozens of air strikes on Islamic State-held areas of
eastern Syria on Friday, after the group’s fighters staged an
assault on an air base near the city of Deir al-Zor, a
monitoring group said.
In at least 50 bombing raids, towns across Deir al-Zor
province, including near the Iraqi border, were hit and dozens
of vehicles and fuel oil tankers were destroyed, the
British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Eight civilians were killed in the bombardment, including
three children, the Observatory said, describing the intensity
of the strikes on the province as “unprecedented”.
Deir al-Zor province links Islamic State’s de facto capital
in Raqqa with territory controlled by the group in Iraq. Syrian
government control is limited to an air base and part of Deir
The strikes were launched after Islamic State fighters
launched a fresh attempt at dawn to overrun the air base where
government troops are holed up just south of Deir al-Zor city.
At least 20 Islamic State fighters and eight soldiers have
been killed in clashes there so far.
Fighting has surged across the country since Russia launched
an air campaign in support of President Bashar al-Assad on Sept.
30 with the stated aim of hitting Islamic State but mostly
bombing other rebel groups in the west of the country.
Islamic State has also come under pressure as a U.S.-led
coalition, accompanied by some rebel groups on the ground, wages
air strikes against it in eastern Syria.
(Reporting by John Davison; Editing By Richard Balmforth)