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US-led coalition continues anti-IS airstrikes in Syria


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Damascus/Beirut: The US-led air campaign against Islamic State (IS) positions in Syria entered its third day Thursday even as it was reported that at least 19 people were killed in overnight airstrikes in the country.

The airstrikes Thursday largely focused on the countryside of the eastern Deir al-Zour province and the northwestern province of al-Raqqa, Xinhua reported citing Syrian media.

The families of IS fighters have started fleeing al-Raqqa toward the northeastern countryside of that province, the main stronghold of the terror group.

The Al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front, which was also targeted in the US-led airstrikes, also started repositioning in the areas under their control to avert further strikes, media reports said.

According to an Efe news agency report from Beirut, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said Thursday that at least 19 people were killed overnight in airstrikes by the US-led international coalition in the Syrian provinces of Deir al-Zur and al-Hasakah.

The dead included 14 jihadis and five civilians, one of them a minor, who perished in raids targeting bases and oil refineries under the control of the IS extremists.

The US announced that fighter jets and drones had attacked 12 oil refineries under IS control in remote areas in eastern Syria.

The SOHR said that the bombings targeted oil facilities, bases, checkpoints and IS armoured cars in the districts of al-Mayadin, Baqras, Qurea and Harbia in Deir al-Zur province.

The London-based NGO added that one of the airstrikes hit a refinery which was not in the hands of IS but of civilians, in Ashara.

Aircraft of the international coalition also bombarded three oil facilities in al-Hul, northeast of al-Hasakah province.

The observatory said it had received unconfirmed reports that three families, belonging to the IS fighters, were killed in an air raid Tuesday in that province.

Meanwhile, the Syrian military has been pressing ahead with its war against armed militants amid the US-led airstrikes, a senior Syrian officer told Xinhua Thursday.

"The Syrian military strategic plans in battling the armed terrorist groups have not been affected by the airstrikes the US-led coalition is waging against the Islamic State positions inside Syria," the officer said on condition of anonymity.

The Syrian air force was undertaking a previously-planned operation against targets of militant groups in Syria, conducting 200 airstrikes last Sunday and Monday alone, he said.

On Thursday, government forces recaptured the town of Adra al-Umaliyeh in the northeastern countryside of Damascus, the pan-Arab al-Maydeen TV reported.

Adra al-Umaliyeh, a largely residential area for state employees, was seized by rebels last year.

The US-led air offensive against IS positions in Syria began Monday, following weeks of attacks on the jihadis in neighbouring Iraq.

The US and its four Arab allies - Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE, and Jordan - with the logistical support of Qatar, bombed several bunkers of the IS in Syria for the first time early Tuesday.

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