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The Latest on IS: Detainees killed at theater in Syria ruins

6:45 p.m. (1545 GMT)

Syrian activists say Islamic State group militants have shot dead a group of detainees in the Roman theater in ancient ruins of Palmyra.

They say Islamic State gunmen killed at least 15 men after accusing them of having fought with President Bashar Assad’s troops.

The incident — the first since the group captured the historic town in central Syria earlier this month — was reported by activists belonging to a Palmyra-based media collective and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

They said the militants gathered people in the theater to watch. The theater is part of the 2,000-year-old Roman-era ruins in Palmyra.

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4:25 p.m. (1325 GMT)

The U.S. military says it continues to provide aerial support to “government-controlled Iraqi forces” throughout the country.

That includes Anbar province, where Iraqi forces launched a large-scale operation Tuesday to retake key territory in the battle against the Islamic State group.

Capt. Andrew Caulk, a U.S. Air Force spokesman in Qatar, says the U.S. continues “to support the (Iraqi forces) near Ramadi now as we did during previous operations.” The U.S. did not initially participate in operations in Iraq’s Salahuddin province last month, but later joined the mission at the request of the Iraqi government.

The Islamic State group holds two major cities in Anbar — Ramadi and Fallujah — and much of the territory west of Baghdad.

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2:20 p.m. (1120 GMT)

Syria’s foreign minister says his government is not pinning any hopes on the U.S.-led coalition striking at Islamic State group militants in his country.

Walid al-Moallem says the coalition was active in preventing the Kurdish town of Kobani from falling into IS hands last year but that this support seems to have “evaporated” after that.

Speaking at a press conference in Damascus on Wednesday, al-Moallem said the United States did nothing to prevent the ancient town of Palmyra in Syria or the province of Anbar in Iraq from falling into IS hands.

He also says that security coordination between the Syrian and Iraqi armies “has not reached the desired levels.”

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12:10 p.m. (0945 GMT)

Syrian activists say the Islamic State group has released two Christian women who had been held along with dozens others since February in northeastern Syria.

IS kidnapped more than 220 Assyrian Christians in February, after overrunning several farming communities on the southern bank of the Khabur River in Hassakeh province.

Osama Edwards, director of the Assyrian Network for Human Rights, says the women, who are 70 and 75 years old, were released on Tuesday and have now reached the northwestern city of Hassakeh.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Wednesday the two were likely released because of their poor health. Some of the captives were released previously.

Edwards says the Islamic State is still holding 210 Assyrian Christians and is demanding $100,000 for each hostage.

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11:45 a.m. (0845 GMT)

An Iraqi military spokesman says Islamic State militants have carried out multiple suicide attacks targeting the army in western Anbar province, killing at least 17 troops.

Brig. Gen Saad Maan Ibrahim, the spokesman for the Joint Military Command, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the attacks took place outside the Islamic State-held city of Fallujah late the previous night.

Ibrahim says Islamic State extremists used a sandstorm that engulfed most of Iraq on Tuesday night to unleash the deadly wave of bombings.

The attacks came just hours after the Iraqi government announced the start of a wide-scale operation to recapture areas under the control of IS in western Anbar province.

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