syria, čovjek, smrt, war.jpg
Photograph: EPA/MOHAMMED BADRA

At least 32 people, including eight civilians, were killed Sunday in airstrikes on the city of al-Raqqa, the Islamic State stronghold in Syria, a monitoring group reported.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists inside the war-torn country, said that the identity of the jets that mounted the strikes was not clear.

The bombardment struck civil facilities including a hospital, a playground and a school in al-Raqqa in north-eastern Syria.

The fatalities included 24 Islamic State militants, according to the Britain-based Observatory.

The air raids were the latest in a series in the area.

In recent months, a US-led military coalition and Russia have separately stepped up airstrikes on al-Raqqa with the aim of dislodging Islamic State from the city.

Sunday’s strikes come two weeks after Syrian regime forces, backed by Russia jets, retook the historic city of Palmyra from the al-Qaeda splinter group, who had controlled it for almost a year.

Palmyra's recapture, a significant military victory, boosted morale for the Syrian army, wearied by the country's multi-sided civil war that has entered its sixth year.

With support of allied Russia, the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad looks eager to regain more ground from opposition forces.

Syrian Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halki Sunday said that the Russian air force and Syria's military were crafting a joint operation that aims to free the northern city of Aleppo from rebel control.

"We, together with our Russian partners, are preparing an operation to liberate Aleppo and block all illegal armed groups that have not joined the ceasefire agreement or violated it," al-Halki told Russian lawmakers visiting Damascus, according to Russia's TASS state news agency.

Control of Aleppo is currently divided between a range of rebel groups and al-Assad's forces.

The rebels in northern Aleppo lost their front lines with al-Assad's forces in February, after they were cut off from Aleppo city due to intense Russian airstrikes backing the government.

Islamic State and al-Qaeda's Syria branch, al-Nusra Front, are excluded from a major US-Russian-brokered ceasefire in Syria, implemented in February and aimed at boosting indirect peace talks between the Syrian government and the opposition.

The Russian air force has been active in Syria since September, when Moscow launched a bombing campaign against insurgents there to support al-Assad, a long-time ally.

President Vladimir Putin announced a partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria last month, calling their task there "completely fulfilled."

However, Russian warplanes have since been instrumental in regime forces’ territorial advances in Syria.

Latest news

Alphabet's self-driving car company sues Uber over alleged theft

Alphabet's self-driving car company Waymo said Thursday it was suing Uber and its subsidiary Otto for allegedly stealing its technology and infringing its patents.

US, Mexico take "important steps" even as Trump voices indifference

Top US and Mexican diplomatic and security officials met on Thursday in Mexico City, as President Donald Trump in Washington expressed ambivalence about relations with the United States' southern neighbour.

US Supreme Court's Ginsberg emphasizes value of free press

US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg expressed optimism about the political future of the United States despite the polarized and combative political atmosphere that has marked the fledgling presidency of Donald Trump.

Top Trump aide Bannon points to promises kept, media fight

Top White House strategist Steve Bannon said Thursday US President Donald Trump is keeping the promises he made during his campaign on issues from immigration to job creation.

Le Pen promises independent foreign policy, autonomous defence

Marine Le Pen promised Thursday that if elected president of France she would ensure it had a truly independent foreign policy as well as an autonomous capacity for self-defence.

Slovenia for ending lawsuits against Ljubljanska Banka

Croatia is infringing the memorandum of understanding signed with Slovenia in 2013 which they interpret differently, the Slovenian Embassy said on Thursday after a hearing at a Zagreb court in a suit which Croatia's PBZ bank filed against Slovenia's Ljubljanska Banka (LB) and Nova Ljubljanska Bank (NLB) over transferred foreign currency savings.

Marin Pucar appointed as new CEO in Podravka food concern

Marin Pucar is the new Management Board chairman of the Podravka food concern and will take the helm of the company after Zvonimir Mrsic's term expires at midnight on Thursday.

Croatian MEP says Moscow wants to influence in western Balkans

Croatian MEP Ivan Jakovcic said in an interview with the Montenegrin Pobjeda daily on Thursday that Moscow is trying to exploit the political forces in Montenegro and that Russia's meddling in Montenegro's internal affairs was "unacceptable behaviour."

New York Times launches brand campaign for 'The Truth' with Oscars ad

The New York Times is using Sunday's Academy Awards show to launch an advertising drive with an ad spot that capitalizes on President Donald Trump's confrontational relationship with the paper and other mainstream media.

Gambia charges former spy chief with murder of opposition leader

The former head of the Gambian national intelligence agency has been charged with the murder of an opposition youth leader who died in detention last year.

Dutch populist Wilders won't publicly campaign after security fiasco

The Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV) won't make public appearances in support of its election campaign after a security official assigned to protect party founder Geert Wilders was detained by police.

Peace Implementation Council Steering Board calls for defusing tensions in Bosnia

The Steering Board of the Peace Implementation Council in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) met on Thursday, expressing the international community's concern about the situation in the country and calling on local politicians to act rationally to prevent an escalation of the crisis after a motion was submitted to review an International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling in BiH's case against Serbia for genocide.