AMMAN: Dozens of families fled two IS-held Deir e-Zor towns for the empty desert over the weekend after at least 30 reported Russian and Syrian regime airstrikes in the province’s east, one of the leading local activists told Syria Direct on Monday.
Civilians from Mayadin, around 45km southeast of Deir e-Zor city, as well as al-Bokamel along the Iraqi border,75km further south of Mayadin, abandoned their homes in both towns over the weekend for nearby desert regions “where there is nothing,” Mujahed a-Shami, the head of the Deir e-Zor is Being Slaughtered Silently media campaign told Syria Direct on Monday.
A minimum of 30 air raids struck 12 areas in several eastern Deir e-Zor towns on Friday in bombing that was “the most violent in more than six months,” a-Shami’s Deir e-Zor is Being Slaughtered Silently reported on Friday.
The Islamic State has controlled most of Deir e-Zor province since 2013.
Dust rising over al-Bokamel following alleged Russia airstrikes. Picture courtesy of Deir e-Zor is Being Slaughtered Silently.
The displaced were fleeing air raids in Deir e-Zor that “have killed 200 civilians in recent weeks,” a-Shami said.
A large number of those displaced over the weekend were residents of al-Bokamel, pro-opposition al-Souria reported Sunday. The border town, one of Friday’s targets, was also struck by two alleged Russian airstrikes earlier this month, killing 31 civilians.
Some pro-opposition sources reported that regime forces had also participated in the heavy bombardment of IS-held eastern Deir e-Zor towns on Friday, while multiple activists Syria Direct spoke with on Monday identified the strikes as Russian. It was not immediately clear how many of the attacks were carried out by Russian warplanes.
The warplanes carrying out strikes in Deir e-Zor in recent weeks “use different tactics in the bombing operations” from those used by regime and US-led coalition planes, a Deir e-Zor-based correspondent for pro-opposition Sound and Picture told Syria Direct on Monday. The correspondent requested anonymity for security reasons.
Syria Direct could not independently confirm that Russian airplanes struck the Deir e-Zor towns.
Russian state-owned TASS news agency reported Friday that more than “600 militants were killed as a result of cruise missile strikes” in Deir e-Zor that struck “terrorist facilities,” quoting Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu.
Syrian state media did not report air strikes in Deir e-Zor on Friday.