Syrian warplane airstrikes on targets inside Western Iraq have left at least 50 people dead and 132 injured, an official and doctor in the region say.
An official in Iraq’s Anbar province and Mohammed Al Qubaisi, a doctor in the area’s main hospital, told The Wall Street Journal that missiles fired from what appeared to be Syrian warplanes hit a market, a bank and a municipal building on Tuesday.
They added that it was the second consecutive day of airstrikes. Syria has joined Iran in helping Iraq’s government fight the Al Qaeda breakaway group known as the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria/Levant, or ISIS, the newspaper reported.
A senior Iraqi military official told The Associated Press that Syrian warplanes bombed militants' positions Tuesday in and near the border crossing in the town of Qaim. He said Iraq's other neighbors — Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Turkey — were all bolstering flights just inside their airspace to monitor the situation. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
However, Syrian authorities have not yet confirmed that Syrian warplanes have been traveling through Iraqi airspace.
Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, said Tuesday that the U.S. was not able to confirm reports of the airstrikes, but added that it “wouldn’t be surprising.”
“The Syrian regime has bombed marketplaces and civilians many, many times," Harf said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, Syrian government warplanes on Wednesday struck an eastern Syrian city that is the headquarters of ISIS, killing at least 12 people, opposition activists said.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the jets struck targets around the city, including a market, in the provincial capital of Raqqa.
Another activist group, the Syria-based Local Coordination Committees, also reported the strikes, saying that five people were killed in a single strike that targeted the Islamic State building.
An opposition activist in Raqqa reported seven airstrikes on Raqqa Wednesday. The activist, who goes by the name of Abu Noor, said in an interview over Skype that 13 bodies of civilians have been identified. He said the death toll will likely rise due to a large number of wounded in various attacks around the city.
The activists said only one of the airstrikes struck the Islamic State headquarters in the city, while others targeted other areas, including a market.
The Islamic State, along with other rebel groups fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad, captured Raqqa in March 2013. Recently, the group has become a major fighting force in Iraq, capturing in recent days major cities and towns in northern Iraq from the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.
Also Wednesday, Syrian aircraft also carried out a series of airstrikes in the eastern Deir el-Zour province near the border with Iraq, the Observatory said. Islamic state fighters have been battling rival jihadi rebel groups for months in the oil-rich province. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.