Middle East

Syria conflict: Strike on IS-held village kills dozens

Photograph posted by the Local Co-ordination Committees, an opposition activist network, purportedly showing the aftermath of the air strike on a market in Khansaa, Syria (20 January 2015) Image copyright Local Co-ordination Committees
Image caption An opposition activist network posted photos purportedly showing the aftermath of the air strike in Khansaa

Dozens of people have been killed in an air strike on a village held by Islamic State in eastern Syria, activists say.

It was not clear who was behind the attack in Khansaa in Hassakeh province, which left between 30 and 80 dead.

The Local Co-ordination Committees and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian military helicopters had dropped barrel bombs on a market.

But some residents alleged that warplanes from the US-led coalition battling IS had fired missiles.

Syrian government officials have so far not commented on the incident.

'Mutilated bodies'

Activists and witnesses concurred that the target of the strike in Khansaa, south of the Kurdish-held city of Qamishli, was a busy livestock market.

Resident Khair al-Obeidi told the Reuters news agency that the Syrian air force had bombed a part of the market where cattle were traded.

"There are at least 65 bodies - mostly charred bodies - that were counted by local medics in Tal Hamis," he said, referring to a nearby town.

The LCC, an opposition activist network, said at least 77 people had been killed in the attack and dozens wounded.

The Syrian Observatory put the toll at 27, but said it was likely to rise because many of the wounded were in a critical condition.

"Some of the bodies were so mutilated by the strikes that people couldn't tell the human from the animal remains," said the UK-based group's director, Rami Abdul Rahman.

An activist named Siraj, who lives in the nearby city of Hassakeh, told the Associated Press news agency that he was given the names of 70 people presumed killed, and said another 13 bodies were too badly burnt to be identified.

He said he got the list from wounded survivors taken to a local hospital.

Siraj said some of them told him that Syrian government aircraft had dropped barrel bombs on the market, but that others blamed US-led coalition aircraft for the attack.

Mr Abdul Rahman said there were daily government and US-led coalition air strikes on IS positions in Hassakeh province, which borders Iraq.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory reported that at least 12 people had been killed in a series of Syrian government air strikes in the town of Saraqeb and the village of Sheikh Mustafa, in the western province of Idlib. Both areas are under the control of jihadist groups.