Amman | Reuters –– At least 27 people were killed and dozens wounded on Tuesday by a Syrian air raid on a cattle market in territory controlled by the hard-line Islamic State, a monitoring group said.
The raid hit the main livestock market in Khansaa, a village south of the Kurdish-held city of Qamishli in northeastern Syria. Several thousand Bedouin Arab traders and customers had gathered in the cattle market, one of the region’s largest.
The British-based Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks violence across the country through a network of sources on the ground, said a final tally from several hospitals in the region put the death toll at 27, with more injured. Earlier, the monitor said the strike resulted in “tens of dead and injured.”
“The raids hit part of the market where traders from several towns and villages in the area traditionally bring their cattle to trade and sell livestock in them,” said resident Khair al-Obeidi, who spoke by phone from the area.
“There are at least 65 bodies, mostly charred bodies, that were counted by local medics in Tel Hamees,” a nearby town, he said.
Syrian government officials were not immediately available for comment. The government’s military campaign against Islamic State is being waged separately from U.S.-led air strikes against Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that has seized around a third of the country.
An opposition activist in Hassaka province, Abdullah Bakour, contacted on Skype, said the Syrian air raid had been preceded by several raids overnight in the area, which lies in the heart of territory controlled by Islamic State.
The head of the Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdul Rahman, told Reuters the strike was part of an escalating series of raids by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s air forces across the country that were tracked by sources on the ground.
“The regime has been intensifying its raids in recent months and exploiting the U.S.-led coalition military campaign,” Abdul Rahman said.
Abdul Rahman said figures compiled by the monitor released on Tuesday showed that around 5,000 air raids were launched by the Syrian air force in the last three months, with over 1,057 civilians killed, including 239 children.
— Reporting for Reuters by Suleiman Al-Khalidi from Amman, Jordan.