At least 53 civilians, including 21 children, were killed Sunday in a Russian airstrike launched against residential buildings in Syria, in a province held by the Islamic State terror group.
The airstrike hit the village of Al-Shafah in Deir ez-Zor, one of the last remaining Syrian strongholds of the Islamic State terror group, which has been driven from key locations such as its former de facto capital of Raqqa.
A previous Russian airstrike in Deir ez-Zor in October killed 38 Syrian civilians, including nine children.
Since becoming actively involved in the Syrian Civil War in 2015, Russia has worked closely with Iran in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
In August, Russian military forces replaced the Syrian regime’s military presence in Daraa and Quneitra in southern Syria, and built a base in the area. Russian forces are also reportedly deployed in various military posts shared with Syrian army units.
Sunday’s airstrike came after Assad embarked on a surprise visit to Russia last week, and relayed a message to Israel via Moscow that Damascus would be willing to implement a 25-mile buffer zone along the Jewish state’s border with Syria.