Syrian state television and a monitoring group said on Tuesday that Russian jets hit Islamic State targets in the Syrian city of Palmyra and the northern province of Aleppo, in some of the heaviest Russian attacks on the hardline Islamist group.
But Russia’s defence ministry denied that its jets hit the city of Palmyra, saying they “do not strike populated areas and especially ones with architectural monuments.”
The reason for the apparently contradictory reports was not immediately clear. Local activists said that Russian war planes killed at least 12 people from two families in the city.
Syria’s state television said the strikes destroyed 20 vehicles and three weapons depots in Islamic State-held Palmyra. In Aleppo, they hit the towns of Al-Bab and Deir Hafer, about 20 km (10 miles) east of a military airport currently besieged by IS fighters.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group tracking Syria’s civil war, said the Palmyra strikes killed 15 Islamic State fighters.
“It was the heaviest Russian attack on Palmyra,” Observatory director Rami Abdulrahman said. Across Syria, Russian jets carried out air strikes in the last 24 hours, the Observatory said.