BREAKING: Air strike ‘kills dozens in village near Raqqa’

At least 33 people have been killed in an air strike on a school in a village west of the Islamic State-held Syrian city of Raqqa, a monitoring group says.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the building in al-Mansoura was being used as a shelter for displaced people when it was hit on Monday night.

The activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently said the fate of 50 families who were there was unknown.

Both groups said the raid was carried out by the US-led coalition against IS.

There was no immediate comment from the coalition, but it has said there were 19 strikes near Raqqa on Monday, including three on what it called IS “headquarters”.

U.N. Warns Russia Over Syria Air Strikes

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein warned Russia on Tuesday over the use of incendiary weapons in Syria’s besieged enclave of eastern Aleppo, and said crimes by one side did not justify illegal acts by the other.

Zeid said that the situation in Aleppo demanded bold new initiatives “including proposals to limit the use of the veto by the permanent members of the Security Council”, which would enable the U.N. body to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“Such a referral would be more than justified given the rampant and deeply shocking impunity that has characterized the conflict and the magnitude of the crimes that have been committed, some of which may indeed amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity,” Zeid said in a statement.

Syria’s government and its allies had undertaken a “pattern of attacks” against targets with special protection under international humanitarian law, including medical units, aid workers and water-pumping stations, he said.

Russia is a key player in the Syrian civil war by virtue of its military support for President Bashar al-Assad and its role as one of five veto-holding powers on the Security Council.

The use of indiscriminate weapons such as incendiary weapons in heavily populated areas was of particularly grave concern, Zeid said, drawing a parallel with the battles of Warsaw, Stalingrad and Dresden during World War Two.

There is no statute of limitations on international crimes, his spokesman Rupert Colville said.

“I remind all State parties to Protocol III of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, including the Russian Federation, that they are strictly prohibited from using incendiary weapons in airstrikes on heavily populated areas, and that the use of such weapons by ground forces is severely restricted,” Zeid said.

The rebels’ use of inaccurate “hell-fire cannons”, homemade mortars that fire gas cylinders packed with explosives and shrapnel, was also totally unacceptable, he said.

Designating the enemy as a “terrorist organization” was not an excuse to ignore the laws of war, Zeid said.

Read More: reuters

U.S.-Led Coalition Blows Up $500 Million In Islamic State Cash And Cuts Its Oil Revenues

The U.S.-led coalition air campaign blew up about $500 million of the Islamic State’s cash and cut its oil revenues by about 50%, according to a senior US defense official.
An ISIS source who asked not to be named says The Islamic State has been forced to ration fuel in some areas and cut its fighters and government officials pay in regions it controls by half.

U.S. officials have said the air campaign combined with local ground forces in Iraq and Syria have dealt the Islamic State setbacks in recent months, saying the terror group has lost 40% of the territory it once controlled in Iraq. “We’ve got the momentum,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said.

The official added that the Islamic State is struggling to replace its fighters who are now being killed at a rate of 1,500 to 2,000 a month.

Source: USA Today

Syrian Army Airstrikes Kill At Least 24

No fewer than 24 people, mostly civilians, were killed on Wednesday in airstrikes by Syrian army helicopters against two rebel-held areas in the north of the war-torn country, a monitoring group reported.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 16 people, including eight children, were killed when government helicopters dropped explosives-packed barrels on Tel Rifaat on the northern edge of Aleppo province.

The watchdog said the helicopters also killed eight civilians, including five from one family, with barrel bombs in the village of Latamneh on the northern fringe of Hama province.

The Syrian government has in recent years stepped up aerial attacks using barrel bombs against the rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

The latest surge in the government’s air raids came after Bashar al-Assad’s overstretched troops suffered a series of setbacks by rebels, mainly jihadists.

Human rights organisations have repeatedly condemned the use of barrel bombs, saying they are indiscriminate in their targeting, cause many civilian casualties and that their use constitutes a war crime.

According to activists, no fewer than 220,000 people are estimated to have been killed in Syria’s conflict since it started in March 2011. (dpa/NAN)