BAGHDAD (AP) — More than 20 people have been killed, many of them children, and dozens of others wounded Monday in airstrikes that targeted a northern Syria town held by the Islamic State group, activists and the IS group said.
The airstrikes that targeted the town of Manbej in Aleppo province were most likely carried out by Syrian army warplanes, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It said the death toll was likely to rise because many of the wounded suffered critical injuries.
Twitter and Facebook accounts affiliated with the Islamic State group said 26 people were killed and around 100 others wounded in the attacks.
Syrian warplanes often target IS-held towns and cities across northern Syria. The airstrikes often result in civilian casualties. A U.S.-led coalition also bombs IS targets in Syria on a daily basis, but the two sides say their overflights and strikes are not coordinated.
In Iraq, militants from the Islamic State group blew up a sports stadium in the western Anbar province that in recent months had been used as a military base, officials said Monday.
There may have been fighters with the country’s Popular Mobilization Forces inside the 30,000-capacity stadium when it was destroyed Sunday, military and security officials in Anbar said, but they were unable to provide a specific estimate and officials with the PMF were not aware of casualties. The Turkey-funded stadium, near the militant-held city of Ramadi, had never been used for sports. In recent months, it was used as a military base for Iraqi security forces and allied militia groups.
The officials spoke anonymously as they are not authorized to brief journalists.
The Iraqi Defense Ministry said last week that security forces were able to “cleanse” the stadium from militants taking refuge inside. It did not elaborate.
The militants seized control of Ramadi in May in what was a major blow to Iraqi security forces on the heels of a victory in Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit. A U.S.-led coalition has been conducting intense airstrikes in Anbar in an effort to help the Iraqi government regain control of the long-volatile province. Iraqi security forces last week announced the launch of a large-scale operation to retake Anbar province from the militants. However, little progress has been reported so far.
The Islamic State group controls about a third of Iraq and Syria, ruling a self-styled “caliphate” where it enforces its radical interpretation of Sunni Islam. It regularly carries out attacks on Iraqi security forces in an effort to destabilize the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.
Also in Anbar, officials say the Islamic State group ambushed a military unit near the city of Fallujah, killing the group’s commander, Ali Ahmed, and four of his men.
Associated Press writer Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report.
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