BEIRUT - At least 12 civilians, including four children and a pregnant woman, were killed Wednesday in Syrian regime air raids on a militant-held village in the northern province of Aleppo, a monitor said.

"The air force dropped barrel bombs this morning on the village of Qasr el-Breij," held by the Islamic State (IS) group, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Dozens of people were also wounded in the village, which lies more than 60 kilometres (35 miles) from the city of Aleppo.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the Observatory's director, said the regime was "trying to distance the militant threat from sectors of Aleppo province held by the army" but killing scores of civilians in the process.

Barrel bombs are crude weapons - containers packed with explosives and scrap metal that are typically dropped from helicopters.

President Bashar al-Assad has denied government forces use the weapons, which rights groups say kill indiscriminately, in their battle against rebels.

Since July 11, regime bombardment of IS-held towns and villages in Aleppo has cost the lives of 136 civilians northeast of the city, especially in Al-Bab, which lies near a military airport, said the Observatory, which takes its information from a vast network of sources on the ground.