US leads massive bombardment of Isil's 'capital' in Syria
US-led coalition aircraft unleashed a wave of airstrikes targeting the Isil stronghold of Raqqa in eastern Syria in the most sustained attacks yet by the allies.
Isil said at least 10 people were killed and many others wounded in the attacks that activists said triggered successive explosions that shook the city and created panic among residents. The US-led coalition often targets Isil-held towns and cities in Syria, but the overnight strikes on Raqqa were rare in their intensity.
The coalition said it carried out 18 airstrikes throughout Raqqa province, destroying a number of Isil vehicles and 16 bridges.
"The significant airstrikes tonight were executed to deny Daesh the ability to move military capabilities throughout Syria and into Iraq," said coalition spokesman Lt Col Thomas Gilleran, using the Arabic acronym for Isil.
"This was one of the largest deliberate engagements we have conducted to date in Syria, and it will have debilitating effects on Daesh's ability to move" from Raqqa, he said.
Raqqa is the de facto capital of the so-called Islamic caliphate declared a year ago by Isil in territories it controls in Iraq and Syria.
The sustained airstrikes add pressure on the militants in Raqqa, still reeling from last month's loss of the border town of Tal Abyad to Kurdish fighters. The town on the Turkish border was a major avenue for commerce and smuggling for the group.
A militant website said 10 people were killed and dozens of others wounded. An Isil-affiliated Facebook page said one civilian was among those killed and 10 were wounded, including women and children. It also said the bombing destroyed several bridges.
The Isil-affiliated Aamaq news agency released a video of what it said was the effects of shelling by a US drone on Raqqa. It showed several wounded men on a stretcher and at least three boys being treated for wounds at a hospital.
A Raqqa-based anti-Isil activist network reported eight civilians were killed by the coalition airstrikes, including a 10-year-old child.