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Key al-Walid crossing seized by IS

Iraqi authorities say a key Iraq-Syria border crossing has fallen into control of Islamic State insurgents. Monitors also say IS has executed more than 200 people around the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra.

The seizure of al-Walid border post, announced by Iraq's Anbar province administration on Sunday, gave the jihadists control of two main roads between Syria and western Iraq.

"Daesh (IS) now controls both sides of both crossings," said Anbar border official Suad Jassem, referring to another crossing further north seized by IS last year.

The seizures came despite an eight-month US-led bombing campaign intended to prevent IS from forming a self-proclaimed caliphate spanning swathes of Syria and Iraq.

On Sunday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had documented IS executions of at least 217 people, including whole families, over the past nine days in and around Palmyra.

IS seized the central Syrian city, famed for its ancient ruins, on Thursday.

Troops have 'disappeared'

The Observatory said 67 civilians and 150 members of Syria's armed forces and allied militias were executed as well as others accused of being "informers loyal to regime" of Syrian President Basar al-Assad.

"A bigger number of troops have disappeared and it is not clear where they are," said observatory spokesman Rami Abdulrahman.

Hours earlier, Syrian state media had said IS had killed 400 civilians in Palmyra, including women and children, as well as state employees such as nursing staff.

Rebel siege 'broken'

Syrian state television also said Syrian warplanes had killed numerous insurgents in air strikes that broke a rebel siege of the Jisr al-Shughour hospital in Syria's northwestern Idlib province.

Syria's four-year civil war has claimed a quarter of a million lives. It involves numerous mainly Sunni Muslim rebel groups, including IS and the al-Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.

Another rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham, posted a video online on Sunday, claiming to show the killing of a Syrian general in bomb attack on his car.

The Observatory said six of his bodyguards were also killed in the explosion.

ipj/rc (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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