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Syrian air force kills 30 Islamic State militants in recently lost town

Troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad lost the strategic central Syrian town of al-Qaryatain to an Islamic State assault last week.

By
Fred Lambert
The Syrian air force killed 30 Islamic State fighters holding the town of al-Qaryatain, in Syria's central Homs province, on August 8, 2015, according to Syrian state news. IS forces captured the strategically important town from regime troops last week. Image from Google Maps
The Syrian air force killed 30 Islamic State fighters holding the town of al-Qaryatain, in Syria's central Homs province, on August 8, 2015, according to Syrian state news. IS forces captured the strategically important town from regime troops last week. Image from Google Maps

AL-QARYATAIN, Syria, Aug. 9 (UPI) -- The Syrian air force on Sunday killed up to 30 Islamic State militants holding a town in Homs province, according to Syrian state news.

SANA reports the airstrikes targeted a rocket depot and seven IS vehicles equipped with machine guns in the town of al-Qaryatain. It quoted a military source as saying most of the dead were Saudis and Tunisians, and that two Saudi IS commanders, known by nicknames "Abu Hajar" and "Abu Abdullah," were among those killed.

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In an assault coordinating the use of suicide bombers, IS forces captured Al-Qaryatain from regime troops last week, enabling the militants unfettered access to supply routes across central Syria.

Thirty-seven pro-government fighters and 23 IS fighters were reported killed in the battle on Thursday. The militants detained up to 230 people, including 60 Christians, from the town, whose estimated 40,000 inhabitants have largely fled to safety, according to Xinhua news agency.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports the Syrian government has since then conducted at least 17 airstrikes in the city using barrel bombs, notoriously inaccurate improvised explosives that are typically dropped from helicopters.

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SOHR on Sunday said it confirmed the deaths of at least 10 people, including eight children and a woman, from barrel bomb strikes in Al-Qaryatain.

Human rights NGO Amnesty International has condemned the embattled regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for its use of barrel bombs, including a strike in May that killed 20 people and wounded 30 in the Jesr al-Haj neighborhood in Aleppo.

An earlier report by the group indicated barrel bombing by the Syrian regime in Aleppo killed 3,124 civilians and just 35 rebel fighters between January 2014 and March 2015.

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