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Airstrike kills dozens of Islamists at Syria camp

More than 40 fighters from the Islamist militant group formerly known as the al-Nusra front have been killed in an airstrike. Meanwhile, so-called IS fighters destroyed a monument in the ancient city of Palmyra.

The air attack was reported on Friday by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which said it could not confirm who had carried it out.

"Warplanes, which may have been Russian or coalition aircraft, struck a Fateh al-Sham camp in Jabal al-Sheikh Suleiman," the Observatory said.

The group is not included in a ceasefire that was brokered by Russia and Turkey although several allied groups are party to it. Since the truce came into effect on December 30, Fateh al-Sham has sustained major losses through airstrikes, with about 100 of its fighters believed killed since the start of the year.

Fateh al-Sham and its associates control almost all of Idlib province in northwestern Syria, as well as swathes of Aleppo province. The group renamed itself from the al-Nusra front last year, after dissolving formal ties with al Qaeda. It is unclear the extent to which the various jihadi groups are cooperating, and the degree to which they are at odds.

Syrien Palmyra Tetrapylon (Getty Images/AFP/J. Eid)

The tetrapylon was reconstructed in 1963, and featured only one of the structure's original pillars

Palmyra monument destroyed

Further south in the country, the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group - which is also excluded from the ceasefire - was reported to have destroyed the famous Tetrapylon structure in the ancient city of Aleppo. The group retook Palmyra in November, some six months after Syrian government forces had driven its fighters out with the help of Russian airstrikes.

The state-run news agency SANA said the militants had destroyed the façade of the Roman ampitheater, along with the cubic-shaped Tetrapylon monument.

In 2014, IS destroyed the Temple of Bel and Temple of Baalshamin, both of which were built about two millennia ago by the Romans. The jihadis have destroyed numerous antiquities across the areas they control, claiming they are monuments to idolatry.

rc/rt (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

 

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