Air strike on IS-held Syrian village kills dozens

An air strike on a Syrian village held by the Islamic State group has killed at least 25 people, all of them civilians, according to activists.

The Deir Ezzor 24 activist group blamed Russian warplanes for the strike yesterday on the village of Shaafa in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour.

The village is near the town of Boukamal, which Syrian troops and their allies captured this month.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights gave a higher death toll, saying 53 people were killed, including 21 children.

The Russian defence ministry said six Tu-22M3 long-range bombers scrambled from Russia and carried out an air strike on "terrorists' objects" in Deir el-Zour.

Syria's violence has not abated ahead of the resumption of UN peace talks in Geneva tomorrow.

More to follow.

Boukamal. Photo: Google Maps

The peace talks will begin as scheduled even though the government delegation might not arrive on time, a diplomat has said.

The opposition had announced last week it was prepared to enter direct talks with the government without preconditions, although some opposition figures have demanded President Bashar Assad relinquish power once the country enters a transitional period.

The government has not named its delegation to the talks and the pro-government Al-Watan daily said the state's team is not expected to head to Geneva on Monday as scheduled, claiming the opposition demands for Assad to leave are "hidden conditions".

In Geneva, a diplomatic official close to the negotiations said that despite indications the government delegation had delayed its arrival, there was nothing to suggest the talks would not start on Tuesday as scheduled.

The UN's deputy envoy to Syria, Ramzy Ramzy, said after meeting Syrian deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad on Saturday in Damascus that the talks would cover four main topics, a new constitution, governance, elections and combating terrorism.


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