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Video Shows Body Bags and Carnage in the Streets of Raqqa After Syrian Government Airstrikes

Activists estimate nearly 100 people, including women and children, were killed during the raids against the Islamic State's self-proclaimed capital on Tuesday.

by Kayla Ruble
Nov 26 2014, 7:25pm

Image via YouTube

Syria's government launched airstrikes on the Islamic State's de facto capital of Raqqa on Tuesday, reportedly killing nearly 100 people in one of the deadliest raids against the embattled Syrian city since it fell under the militant group's control last year.

Raqqa Media Center, a Raqqa-based activist collective, posted video footage that it said shows the aftermath of the strikes. The video appears to show the scene at the market — one of the targets during the raids — with turned over vegetable carts among the chaos. People can be seen clearing up debris and taking stock of the situation, while bulldozers are already at work.

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Pro-Islamic State media group Aa'maq News Agency also published video online also showing the scene in the city following the raids. The footage shows dozens of men loading body bags into an ambulance. During the video, a fire truck drives up to the site of burning vehicles and spraying at smoke in attempts to put it out, leaving hulls of still-smoking cars in its wake.

A video allegedly posted online by an Islamic State source shows two vehicles engulfed in flames and burnt out cars in the aftermath of the strikes, which were reportedly carried out by President Bashar al-Assad's regime-backed air force. Rows of body bags can be seen lined up in the street, before men carry away some of the deceased. In the gruesome footage, dead bodies, some of them children, are sprawled across the floor of a room, while injured victims can be seen receiving care.

Buildings reportedly bombed in the attacks are also shown in the video, with debris scattered and structural damage visible. According to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), the damage in Raqqa city was the result of a series of 10 airstrikes.

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VICE News could not independently confirm numbers of deaths and injuries Wednesday, and death toll reports have varied among different sources.

SOHR's director Rami Abdurrahman told the Associated Press that the group estimates at least 95 were killed and 120 wounded in the Raqqa strikes. Fifty-two civilians were reportedly listed among the dead, including three women and four children, according to SOHR.

At least 43 of the dead were not identified as civilians, according to a BBC report, and it is not clear whether any of them were Islamic State fighters. The strikes were allegedly carried out near militant group strongholds.

Raqqa Media Center released conflicting death toll estimates, reporting that 87 were killed and more than 100 wounded in the attacks, while activist groups like Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered documented more than 100 deaths. Inconsistent casualty reports are common in the immediate aftermath of air raids in Syria.

Since the Islamic State overtook vast areas of land in Iraq and Syria in a lightening advance this summer, President Bashar al-Assad's regime has actively launched airstrikes targeting militant-held positions in Raqqa, as has the US-led coalition waging its own battle against the Sunni Islamist group's presence in both countries.

As Syria's three-year civil conflict wages on, further intensified by the Islamic State's advances in the country, the United Nations' humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, issued a briefing Tuesday saying progress has not been sufficient in getting humanitarian aid to people in need. Despite a UN-adopted resolution supporting a comprehensive approach for assisting Syrians, Amos said the organization has "faced considerable challenges" and will "fall short of meeting the humanitarian needs of all the people" the group aims to reach in Syria.

According to Amos, only one besieged location inside the country has been reached during each of the last two months. Amos said data collected by the UN indicates that 12.2 million people across Syria are in "urgent need of humanitarian assistance." 

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Follow Kayla Ruble on Twitter: @RubleKB