Photo by Raqqa Media Center/AP
At least 25 people are dead after Syrian forces launched a series of air attacks on an Islamic State-run bakery and other militant targets in the northeastern city of Raqqa on Saturday.At least three children and eight members of a single family were killed in the stike on al-Andalus bakery, which also killed nine members of the Islamist State extremist group, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).
Syrian military missiles also targeted al-Taka'e camp, the biggest IS training facility in Raqqa province, along with another office and a building used as an Islamic court, the Britain-based monitoring group said. The death count is expected to rise.The Syrian government has ramped up airstrikes in Raqqa since August after insurgents seized an airbase and other military posts, capturing and executing dozens of soldiers and forcing remaining Syrian troops out of the area.Airstrikes Pound Islamic State Forces in Syria As Rebels Gain An Unlikely Ally. Read more here.The city, which has a population of approximately 220,000, has since become the main stronghold in Syria. Militants now control most of the civil resources and day-to-day operations in buildings such bakeries, schools, mosques, banks and courts.The government has also upscaled its attacks on the group since June, when the group made sweeping advances across vast swathes of land in northern and western Iraq and declared an Islamic caliphate spanning areas it controls in Iraq and Syria.The US also carried out two airstrikes against IS targets in northern Iraq on Friday and Saturday. The strikes destroyed four Humvees, one armored personnel carrier and two trucks belonging to IS fighters, according to a statement issued by US Central Command. A Humvee and truck used by the militants were also reportedly damaged. The strikes bring the total carried out across Iraq since August 8 to 133.
The US has been conducting limited airstrikes in Iraq since early August and is currently considering military attacks on core IS bases in Syria. The move is a pivot in policy for President Barak Obama, who has been avoiding involvement in Syria's bloody civil war since it began in 2011.In Syria, the Enemy of America's Enemy Is Still a Lousy Friend. Read more here.The recent beheadings of two American journalists by the extremist group has added clout to the growing camp in and outside America calling for decisive foreign intervention in Syria. On Saturday, an IS commander claimed the group had beheaded another foreign prisoner—the second Lebanese soldier to be killed within a week.Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has previously called for support to fight the militants, but western governments have been hesitant to back a leader that has been accused of routinely carrying out dangerous tactics against militants, including the indiscriminate dropping of barrels packed with explosives that have killed scores of civilians across the country over the past three and a half years.The government has also been accused of using so-called barrel bombs directly against civilians and launching a deadly chemical weapons attack against anti-government protestors last year.Watch the entire VICE News documentary The Islamic State here.Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields