Russia says its warplanes did not hit Syrian market in east

At least 17 people were reportedly killed in a market in the Syrian town of Ashara in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor

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Russian warplanes did not hit the Syrian town of Ashara in the eastern province of Deir al-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.

Syrian and Russian warplanes killed at least 17 people in an air raid on a market in Ashara, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported. Eight children were among those killed and the toll was expected to rise, it said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the strikes on Al-Asharah, a town held by ISIS in Deir Ezzor province, were suspected to have been carried out by either Russian or Syrian government planes.

“The market was overcrowded on Monday because people were shopping for Ramadan,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

He said many of those killed were from the same family, and that the death toll was likely to rise because of the serious condition of some of the wounded.

Residents of nearby villages typically flock to Al-Asharah market to do their shopping, Abdel Rahman said.

Heavy air strikes hit IS-held areas in and outside the divided city of Deir Ezzor from early Monday, he said.

ISIS controls more than 60 percent of the city, besieging an estimated 200,000 people there.

The militant group also controls most of the surrounding oil-rich province by the same name.

The Observatory relies on a network of sources inside Syria to gather its information on the five-year conflict, which has killed more than 280,000 people and displaced millions.

It says it determines whether strikes were carried out by Syrian, Russian or US-led coalition aircraft based on the location of the raids, flight patterns and the types of planes and munitions involved.

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

Regime air strikes killed at least 15 civilians in the ISIS-held area of Boleel outside Deir Ezzor city on Friday, according to the monitor.

(With Reuters, AFP)

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