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IS car bombing kills displaced Syrians in Deir az-Zour

Deir az-Zour has been the scene of fierce fighting between IS and regime forces [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 November, 2017

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A car bomb attack by Islamic State militants has killed dozens of displaced people who had fled fighting in Syria's Deir az-Zour province, a monitor reported.

A car bombing carried out by the Islamic State group killed dozens of displaced people in the eastern Syrian province of Deir az-Zour on Saturday, a monitor said.

The attack targeted people displaced by fighting in the oil-rich province who had gathered on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The attack comes as Syrian and allied forces converged on Saturday on holdout IS fighters in the border town of Albu Kamal, a day after Russian-backed regime forces took full control of the provincial capital, also called Deir az-Zour, which was the last Syrian city where IS still had a presence.

"The Islamic State group targeted with a car bomb displaced people on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River, killing dozens and wounding dozens of others," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.

He said he could not immediately gave a specific toll of how many people were killed and wounded in the attack.

Abdel Rahman said the victims had fled battlegrounds in Deir az-Zour province, where the US-backed Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance is also on the offensive against IS.

The SDF is attacking IS on the eastern bank of the Euphrates which cuts across the province, while Russian-backed Syrian forces are battling the jihadists on the western bank of the river.

The situation in the city, and surrounding countryside, has been especially bleak with civilians trapped between the fighting and all too often caught in the crossfire.

The parallel offensives have sent thousands of civilians fleeing for their lives, some straight into the desert.

Sonia Khush, Syria director at the Save the Children charity, said an estimated 350,000 people have fled the recent fighting in Deir az-Zour province, half of them children.

"The situation in the city, and surrounding countryside, has been especially bleak with civilians trapped between the fighting and all too often caught in the crossfire," she said.

Syria's eastern Deir az-Zour province 
[click to enlarge]

The Euphrates Valley border area was the heart of the "caliphate" IS proclaimed in 2014 and is now its last redoubt, where a US-led coalition supporting the military effort said around 1,500 jihadist fighters remained.

Despite being driven out from large parts of Deir az-Zour, IS still controls 37 percent of the province and its fighters are deployed in the eastern side.

The Syrian conflict began when the Baath regime, in power since 1963 and led by Assad, responded with military force to peaceful protests demanding democratic reforms during the Arab Spring wave of uprisings, triggering an armed rebellion fueled by mass defections from the Syrian army.

The brutal tactics pursued mainly by the regime, which have included the use of chemical weapons, sieges, mass executions and torture against civilians have led to war crimes investigations.



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