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95 dead, as Syrian forces target Islamic State stronghold in Raqqa

Human rights officials have raised the death toll in Raqqa, Syria to 95, including 52 civilians, as Syrian government forces carry out one of the deadliest attacks on the Islamic State stronghold in the past three years. 

The death toll from a series of Syrian government airstrikes on the Islamic State group's stronghold in northeastern Syria has risen to at least 95, making it one of the deadliest attacks on the city of Raqqa in the past three years.

Some of the airstrikes Tuesday struck a popular market near a museum and an industrial neighborhood, causing many civilian casualties.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights raised its death toll Wednesday to 95. Its director, Rami Abdurrahman, said they include 52 civilians whose names the group was able to document. They include three women and four children, he said. At least 120 others were wounded in the strikes, according to the group.

Other activists, including the Local Coordination Committees and a Raqqa-based collective called Raqqa is Being Silently Slaughtered, estimated more than 100 people had been killed. It was not clear how many militants were among those killed.

The Associated Press could not independently confirm the death toll — one of the worst single-day tolls in the city, which is completely under the control of the Islamic State group.

The Syrian government as well as the U.S.-led coalition frequently bomb Islamic State group targets in Raqqa, but it was not immediately clear what prompted Tuesday's unusually intense attacks. The Islamic State group has slaughtered hundreds of Syrian soldiers in the past few months, and recently posted a video showing what it said was the beheading of more than a dozen Syrian soldiers, including officers.

In Iraq, security forces backed by Sunni tribesmen repelled an assault by IS militants on a government complex in the center of Ramadi, the provincial capital of western Anbar province, said officials. Soldiers, supported by army helicopters, were able to fend off the attack, according to the officials who spoke anonymously because they are not authorized to brief the media.

IS militants have overrun a large part of Anbar province in a push to expand their territory. The group now controls about a third of Syria and Iraq, declaring the territory as part of its self-described caliphate.

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