Dozens Killed in Anti-ISIS Strikes in Syria

Dozens Killed in Anti-ISIS Strikes in Syria

Saturday, 17 November, 2018 - 18:30
Smoke billows from air strikes in Syria. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Dozens of people, mostly civilians, were killed on Saturday in US-led coalition air strikes against a holdout of the ISIS group in the eastern Syrian Deir Ezzour province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

It said 17 children were among 36 ISIS family members killed in the Abu al-Hassan village near the Iraqi border. Another seven victims had not yet been identified as either civilians or ISIS fighters, it said.

The US-led coalition has been backing a Kurdish-Arab alliance called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) fighting to expel the terrorists from the pocket around Abu al-Hassan.

"It's the highest death toll in coalition air strikes since the SDF launched its attack against the ISIS pocket" in September, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

The coalition confirmed strikes in the area but said no "civilian casualties are associated" with them, reiterating that it takes measures to avoid non-combatant casualties.

"We have witnessed (ISIS) using places of worship and hospitals as command centers against the laws of war, and innocent civilians as human shields," Col. Sean Ryan, a spokesman for the coalition, said in an email to The Associated Press.

Syrian state news agency SANA also reported the strikes, saying 40 were killed in the remote area of Buqaan, another village next to Abu al-Hassan.

The ISIS-linked Aamaq news agency also reported 40 killed, quoting a medical official in the Hajin area.

ISIS overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" in land it controlled.

But the terror group has since lost most of it to various offensives in both countries.

In Syria, the group has seen its presence reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and the pocket in Deir Ezzour.

The coalition has since 2014 acknowledged direct responsibility for over 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, but rights groups put the number killed much higher.

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