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Rights Group Says Two Air Strikes Kill At Least 35 Civilians In Syria

People gather next to symbolic coffins with pictures of Syrian victims and inscriptions that translate as "killer Assad" and "killer Putin" during a protest against Russia for its alleged role in a chemical attack in the Syrian province of Idlib on April 7.

The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 35 people have been killed in two separate air strikes in Syria -- with forces on the opposing side of the country's civil war suspected in each attack.

The Observatory said on April 9 that at least 18 people were killed in an air strike by unidentified warplanes in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib Province, near the site of a suspected chemical attack carried out by government forces.

The planes responsible for the air strike were not immediately identified, but the attack came four days after the suspected chemical-weapons attack was blamed on Syrian government forces.

Syria has denied carrying out the chemical attack.

Syrian forces and their Russian allies have targeted rebel-held Idlib Province in the past.

The Observatory said at least five children died in the April 8 air strike and that the toll was likely to rise. Civil-defense officials put the number at 19 people killed and 22 wounded.

Meanwhile, the Observatory on April 8 said suspected U.S.-led coalition warplanes hit an Internet cafe in the IS-held village of Hneida on the outskirts of Raqqa, the de facto IS capital, killing at least 17 and injuring 12.

A U.S.-backed Kurdish-Arab alliance, the Syrian Democratic Forces, is preparing to launch an attack on Raqqa, the last major IS stronghold in Syria, and is in the process of encircling the city.

IS fighters, who captured wide swathes of territory in 2014 in Syria and Iraq, are being pushed back on multiple fronts, including in northern Syria.

The Syrian civil war has killed more than 300,000 people since the conflict broke out in March 2011 with antigovernment demonstrations.

The United States and Turkey support rebels fighting the government of President Bashar al-Assad, while Russia and Iran back Assad.

IS fighters, opposed by both sides, have also entered the fight.

With reporting by dpa and AP
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