Syrian activists: 3 days of strikes on Raqqa kill 33 in IS

AP News
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Posted: Nov 18, 2015 11:25 AM

BEIRUT (AP) — Airstrikes on the northern Syrian city of Raqqa and its outskirts have killed at least 33 Islamic State group fighters over the past three days, an opposition group that tracks Syria's civil war said Wednesday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the fighters were mostly killed when their checkpoints were attacked by French and other warplanes.

France has launched multiple airstrikes against IS following attacks, claimed by the militant group, that killed at least 129 people in Paris on Friday. Russia also intensified its bombardment of Raqqa after Moscow's FSB security service announced Tuesday that a bomb brought down a Russian plane in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula last month, killing all 224 people onboard. IS also claimed that attack.

The Observatory said that more IS fighters are believed to have been killed in the airstrikes, but their bodies were so severely dismembered it wasn't possible to give a precise figure.

Zeid al-Thabet, a member of an anti-IS media collective that covers Raqqa known as the Sound and Picture Organization, also reported a "large number" of IS fighters killed but had no precise figure.

The Observatory reported that IS fighters' families are fleeing Raqqa to the northern Iraqi city of Mosul because of the intensity of the bombing, saying they feel Raqqa is no longer safe. The report could not be independently verified.

Meanwhile, the ex-wife of IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi appeared Wednesday in court in Beirut, where she is being tried on terrorism-related charges. Saja al-Dulaimi was detained in Lebanon last year after she crossed into the country illegally with her husband using forged identity cards.

Al-Dulaimi is now married to a Palestinian man, who is being detained on similar charges. She walked into the courtroom carrying her four-month-old son Youssef, born while she was in jail. It was her first time seeing her husband, Kamal Khalaf, since she was detained last November.

For Khalaf, it was his first chance to see his son. After asking the judge's permission, he briefly held the child in his arms before the baby was taken away by a female soldier.

Al-Dulaimi, who has three other children including one from al-Baghdadi, complained to the judge that her status in jail has not improved since the last trial session and requested that her children be placed elsewhere rather than in prison with her.

"It has been four months and I am still in a room with four children," she said, wearing a black dress and a veil with drawings of butterflies on it.

The military judge responded: "I sympathize with you," without elaborating.

Al-Dulaimi's lawyer, Hanna Geagea, told The Associated Press that her client "has nothing to do with Daesh," using the Arabic acronym for the group. She said al-Dulaimi only discovered that her former husband was the IS leader when she saw him on TV while in Syria last year.

"There is no relation whatsoever between Saja and her ex-husband," Geagea said.

Al-Dulaimi has nine-year-old twin boys, Osama and Omar, from another Iraqi man she married and who later died.

She then was married for three months to al-Baghdadi — a nom de guerre — before getting a divorce following disagreements over his decision to marry another woman and bring her into the same house, Geagea said. Only after the divorce did she discover she was pregnant with al-Baghdadi's daughter, Hajar, now 7.

The session was then adjourned until Dec. 28.