Russian warplanes bombed ferries passing on the Euphrates River, near Syrian city Deir Ezzor, Britain-based war monitor says.

Russian strikes targeted ferries crossing the Euphrates in the Al-Boulil district southeast of Deir Ezzor city, on September 10 2017.
Russian strikes targeted ferries crossing the Euphrates in the Al-Boulil district southeast of Deir Ezzor city, on September 10 2017. (AP)

At least 34 civilians were killed on Sunday when Russian warplanes targeted ferries carrying them across the Euphrates River near Syria's eastern city of Deir Ezzor, a monitor said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights initially reported 21 deaths in Russian air strikes but later raised the toll to 34, saying that "more bodies have been found in the river".

Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said nine children were among those killed fleeing fighting and that "dozens" of people were wounded in the strikes.

He said the raids targeted "more than 40 ferries" that had left Al-Boulil town southwest of Deir Ezzor city for the eastern shore of the river.

Offensive against Daesh

Sunday's reported raids came as Syrian regime troops pressed an offensive against Daesh militants across Deir Ezzor province with Russian air cover.

According to the War Media channel operated by regime ally Shia group Hezbollah, Syrian regime troops seized full control of the 450-kilometre (280-mile) road linking the capital to Deir Ezzor for the first time in four years.

TRT World's Ahmed al Burai has more details.

US-backed militias

At the same time, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-allied militias mainly comprised of PKK-linked YPG militants made a sweeping advance against Daesh on Sunday in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province, capturing territory just kilometres from the provincial capital, a monitor said.

The move came a few days later the regime forces broke Daesh-siege of the city.

Oil-rich Deir Ezzor province borders Iraq and is a strategic prize for both the US-backed SDF and Russian-supported regime troops.

The SDF announced on Saturday it had begun offensive against Daesh areas east of the Euphrates River, which cuts diagonally across the province.

By Sunday, militants from the SDF had seized much of the province's northeast, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

"They seized control of a hilltop seven kilometres (four miles) from the eastern banks of the Euphrates, across the river from Deir Ezzor city," said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the Britain-based monitor.

He attributed the quick gains to the fact that "eastern parts of Deir Ezzor are desert and not densely populated".

The SDF's advance is being backed by the US-led coalition battling Daesh in Iraq and Syria since 2014, while the regime's push on the city is being supported by its Russian allies.

US backed coalition and the SDF, Syrian regime and Russia have agreed on a "de-confliction line" in northeastern Syria to prevent the two assaults from clashing.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies