The death toll from purported Russian airstrikes on the Islamic State-held city of Raqqa has climbed in the past 24 hours to at least 55, mostly civilians, Syrian opposition activists have said. Putin deliberately helping ISIS recruit by killing civilians. He is also complicating the flow of Syrian refugees to Europe Erdogan has made an agreement with the EU to stem.
Activists on the ground, which document the conflict, said 55 people have been killed, including 13 children and a pregnant woman, in what it said were Russian airstrikes that hit residential areas.
The anti-Isis activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently also said the attacks were by Russian warplanes and put the number of deaths at 60.
The Isis-affiliated news agency Aamaq said 43 people were killed and 60 others wounded. It released a video that purports to show the “massacre committed by Russian aircraft in one of Raqqa’s most congested streets”.
Airstrikes on the city in northern Syria were continued on Sunday. The activists on Saturday said the air raids struck near the national hospital, a former army base and other neighborhoods.
Isis has controlled the city since 2013 and considers it the capital of its self-styled caliphate. A Kurdish-led force supported by the US and Russia has said it is planning to liberate Raqqa in the next few months.
The alliance, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, has had success fighting against Isis in northern Syria, and expelled its militants from their stronghold in Hassakeh – the town of Shaddadeh – last month.
Russia has been conducting airstrikes in Syria since 30 September. Moscow began drawing down its military presence in Syria over the past week after Vladimir Putin ordered a partial pullout of Russian aircraft and forces in support of indirect peace talks in Geneva.
The Russian president said Moscow would keep enough forces in Syria to continue the fight against Isis, the al-Qaida-affiliated al-Nusra Front and other extremist organisations not included in a truce brokered by Russia and the US that came into effect on 27 February. However, as these strikes show, Putin is targeting civilians, not Isis.
AP contributed to this report.