Strikes on IS City Kill 8 11/27 06:36
BEIRUT (AP) -- A new wave of airstrikes targeting the Syrian city of Raqqa,
the headquarters of the extremist Islamic State group and the focus of an
international military campaign, killed at least eight people, including five
children, Syrian opposition groups said Friday.
The strikes came as France's foreign minister, Laurent Fabius, declared that
destroying the IS headquarters and "neutralizing and eradicating" the extremist
group is the main objective of the international campaign.
It wasn't immediately clear who carried out the latest airstrikes. The city
in northeastern Syria is the group's de facto capital and has become the focus
of international airstrikes in the wake of the Paris terror attacks and the
bombing of a Russian jetliner over Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. IS has said it was
behind both the Paris attacks and the downing of the Russian passenger plane.
A Raqqa-based activist group that reports on IS, known as Raqqa is Being
Slaughtered Silently, said Friday that most of the casualties in the latest
aerial bombardment occurred when warplanes targeted the city's Heten School.
The school, like others in Raqqa, has been taken over by IS.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 12, including
the five children. Conflicting casualty figures are common in the chaos of
Syria's civil war, now in its fifth year.
Russia and a U.S.-led coalition that includes France have been pounding
An IS-affiliated agency, Aamaq, published a video purporting to show
nighttime explosions that lit up the Raqqa sky. The video showed a building and
several cars on fire, and a man crouching over the bodies of five children. The
agency claimed the casualties and destruction were caused by Russian airstrikes
that targeted civilian areas.
In an interview with RTL radio, Fabius said that destroying Daesh is an
objective that all countries agree upon, referring to IS by its Arabic acronym.
He spoke after a week of intense diplomacy capped by the French president's
meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Francois Hollande has been on a diplomatic drive since the Paris attacks to
increase cooperation in tackling IS, which holds large swathes of territory in
both Syria and Iraq. The extremist group claimed responsibility for the downing
of a Russian passenger plane over Egypt, when all 224 people onboard were
killed, as well as the Nov. 13 attacks in Paris that killed 130 people.
Fabius said Putin agreed on the need to focus international efforts against
the extremist group and that France is drawing up a map of other, moderate
groups, to protect them from warplanes.
He also said the international coalition is focusing on oil convoys from the
group's territory, which provide a crucial source of income. He said some of
the trucks head toward Turkey, and France believes Syrian leader Bashar Assad
is also a buyer --- a charge the Syrian government has denied.