Russian air strikes kill 34 civilians in Syria’s Deir Ezzor province

Russian air strikes have killed 34 civilians on ferries fleeing violence in Syria’s eastern province of Deir Ezzor, where jihadists face separate assaults by US-backed forces and Russian-backed government troops, a monitor said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitor initially reported 21 deaths, but later raised the toll to 34, saying that “more bodies have been found in the river” Euphrates.

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said nine children were among those killed and that “dozens” of people were wounded in the strikes on Sunday.

He said the raids targeted “more than 40 ferries” that had left Al-Boulil town southeast of Deir Ezzor city for the eastern shore of the river.

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

Moscow intervened in Syria in September 2015 in support of its ally President Bashar al-Assad.

Sunday’s reported raids came as Syrian troops with Russian air cover pressed an offensive against Islamic State group jihadists across Deir Ezzor province.

On Saturday, government forces broke a nearly three-year jihadist siege of a Syrian air base on the southern edges of Deir Ezzor city, the provincial capital.

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