Assad regime and Russian jets have stepped up the bombardment of a town in Raqqa province held by the Islamic State (ISIS) group, increasing pressure on the fighters while killing tens of civilians.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said the warplanes carried out at least 18 air strikes since dawn on Sunday on the town of Tabqa, just west of Raqqa, ISIL’s de facto capital in Syria.
Separately, activists said Russian jets targeted residential neighborhoods in al-Tabaqa city using cluster bombs, leading to the death of 16 civilians and the injury of more than 30.
The campaign has prompted a mass exodus of locals from the town to safer areas and caused mass destruction in the Raqqa and its surroundings.
Earlier this month, Syrian troops started an offensive aimed at cutting off Raqqa from the Turkish border.
Troops and militia members, backed by Syrian and Russian warplanes, pushed east from the government outpost of Ithriya, closing in on Tabqa.
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by US air strikes, is also pushing towards Tabqa, located near Syria’s largest dam, at the southern end of Lake Assad on the Euphrates.