Russian air strikes kill 42 in ISIS-held Raqqa

The Syrian Observatory says 42 people were killed earlier this week, including 27 civilians and 15 ISIS fighters

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Air strikes by Russian warplanes on the Syrian city of Raqqa, which is controlled by the Islamic state of Iraq and Syria militant group, killed 42 people earlier this week, including 27 civilians, monitoring group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Friday.

Fifteen ISIS fighters made up the remainder of the death toll, the Britain-based Observatory said, after a series of strikes on Tuesday that hit the group's Syrian stronghold.

The bombings add to a civilian death toll from Russian strikes, which the Syrian Network for Human Rights, another monitoring group, said on Monday stood at 254 people killed in just over a month.

It was also a rare heavy Russian bombardment targeting ISIS rather than other insurgent groups.

On Thursday, Russia’s airforce said it carried out strikes near ISIS-held ancient city of Palmyra for the second time this week, claiming its targets were far from Syria’s historic sites.

Russian bombers “destroyed a large fortified location of Islamic State militants,” including an air-defense gun and a tank, the defense ministry said in a statement.

The ministry added that it “only strikes the objects of terrorist infrastructure which are at a considerable distance from the architectural monuments” and the target was about 30km from the historic citadel.

The Russian air force also hit targets around Palmyra on Monday.

Russia is began its air strikes on Syria on September 30, saying they were primarily targeting ISIS, though the U.S. and its allies in a separate coalition say that Moscow is mainly attacking more moderate groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s army.

Moscow has adjusted rhetoric recently regarding the rebels fighting Assad in Syria, from discrediting the Western-backed Free Syrian Army as practically non-existent to last month proposing air support to moderate rebels.

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