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'Islamic State' kills 135, including civilians, in eastern Syria

Over a hundred people have been killed by "Islamic State" (IS) militants in Deir el-Zour, a government-held area in eastern Syria. The attacks saw the jihadis make significant advances in the contested city.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Saturday that at least 135 people had died in the attacks, at least 80 of whom were soldiers and pro-government militiamen. The remaining victims were civilians.

State news agency SANA said IS militants committed "a massacre" in Baghaliyeh, a village near the northern tip of the city.

Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV, which is closely aligned with the Syrian government, also reported a massacre and said IS killed 280 people, including women and children, before throwing their bodies in the Euphrates River. It said the group took more than 400 civilians hostage.

The reports could not be independently confirmed, however.

Key province

Deir el-Zour is regarded as a key province in the fight against IS, as the province provides a link between Raqqa, widely seen as current IS headquarters, and a number of Syria's oil fields - a major source of revenue for IS.

The jihadi militant group already controls most of the province and the provincial capital with the same name, but large parts of the territory are still held by regime forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

ksb/sms (AFP, AP)

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