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Air strikes kill dozens in Syria's Aleppo

Dozens killed in Aleppo air strikes as regime forces cross into Raqqa province for the first time since August 2014.

Syria's Aleppo

At least 29 people, including children, have been killed in government airstrikes in Syria's Aleppo city, residents and a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human rights said on Sunday dozens of barrel bombs - oil drums or cylinders packed with explosives and shrapnel- were dropped by military helicopters on the heavily populated al-Qatriji neighbourhood.

At least nine civilians were killed and scores injured, the monitoring group added.

At least 40 air strikes hit the rebel-held areas on Sunday in some of the heaviest recent raids by Russian and Syrian government war-planes, the Syrian Civil Defence have said.

Rebels also hit government-held parts of Aleppo in what Syrian media said was an escalation in mortar attacks on the western parts of the country's largest city before the war.

State media said missiles fired on Hamadaniyah and the Midan areas by rebels left scores injured and several casualties in a second day of intense shelling of government held areas.

The Observatory also said that since May 31, at least 74 people were killed in air strikes.

Government advance in Raqqa

In another development, the Syrian army crossed the boundary of Raqqa province after advancing in a major Russian-backed offensive against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, the Observatory said on Saturday.

Heavy Russian air strikes hit ISIL-held territory in eastern areas of Hama province, near the boundary of Raqqa, on Friday to facilitate the Syrian army's advance, the Observatory reported.

ISIL, which controls large swaths of territory in Syria and Iraq, is fighting Syrian troops, US-backed fighters and other rebel groups in northern Syria and is facing an offensive by Iraqi government forces and its on their stronghold of Fallujah.

SOHR said at least 26 ISIL fighters and nine Syrian government and allied troops were killed in the fighting.

It was the first time that government troops had entered Raqqa province since they were ousted by ISIL fighters in August 2014.

The Syrian army was making its advances from the Athriya area of eastern Hama province, close to the provincial border with Raqqa.

The offensive brought troops to within less than 40km of Tabqa, which is the site of an airbase and a big reservoir, SOHR said.

Russia's military intervention in support of Damascus in September has helped bolster President Bashar al-Assad's government.

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