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ISIS Shelling in Deir al-Zor as Suspected US-led Strikes Leave Casualties | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) stands guard near the village of Bir Fawaz, 20km north of Raqqa on February 8, 2017. Photo: AFP / Delil Souleiman

Heavy shelling by ISIS jihadists killed at least seven people in the eastern Syrian city of Deir al-Zor on Sunday night as the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said dozens of people were killed in suspected US-led coalition strikes in the northern Raqqa province and the town of Albu Kamal near the Iraqi border.

The Britain-based organization that monitors the war, said the militants continued to shell Deir al-Zor’s regime-held districts on Monday.

ISIS holds most of Deir al-Zor province, apart from an enclave in the city and a nearby air base that Syrian regime forces control.

The militants have besieged those districts for nearly two years. The Syrian regime and its Russian ally have made regular aid drops into the encircled zone, where about 200,000 people live, lacking food and medicine.

Deir al-Zor province links territory ISIS controls in Syria and Iraq.

The monitor said the strike in Raqqa on Sunday afternoon hit vehicles carrying farmworkers home from fields in the east of the province.

It said the strike on the ISIS-held village of Akayrshi might have been carried out by the US-led coalition.

The Observatory relies on a network of sources inside Syria and says it determines whose planes carry out raids according to their types, locations, flight patterns and the munitions used.

But the activist-run Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently said that 22 died in the strike.

ISIS has lost swathes of the territory it once held in Raqqa province, though it still holds Raqqa city, its de facto capital, and some areas to the east.

A US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters known as the Syrian Democratic Forces is battling towards Raqqa city after capturing several nearby towns and villages recently.

Another suspected US-led coalition air strike killed early Monday 23 civilians in Albu Kamal that is held by ISIS near the border with Iraq, the Observatory said.

The monitor said some of those killed in the strike were civilians displaced from other areas controlled by the terrorist group, including Deir Ezzor and Raqqa provinces, and neighbouring Iraq.

Meanwhile, Syria’s regime is close to cementing its control over the entire capital under local deals with rebels after a six-year war that has ravaged suburbs of Damascus and caused population displacements.

Rebels have evacuated some of the last Damascus districts under their control, shattering their dream of one day seizing the capital and toppling a five-decade-old regime.