US-led coalition strikes kill 9 civilians in east Syria

More than 300 civilians have been killed in that period, a monitor says, though the coalition insists it does not target non-combatants. (File/AFP)
Updated 08 December 2018

US-led coalition strikes kill 9 civilians in east Syria

  • “Air raids and artillery fire by the international coalition and the SDF are going on against neighborhoods of the town of Hajjin,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said
  • The coalition did not immediately comment on the alleged fatalities but has repeatedly said it does its utmost to avoid civilian casualties

BEIRUT: Air strikes by a US-led coalition battling the Daesh group in east Syria killed nine civilians on Friday, a monitor said.
The Kurdish-Arab Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), backed by coalition airpower, has been fighting to oust Daesh from the pocket in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor since September.
“Air raids and artillery fire by the international coalition and the SDF are going on against neighborhoods of the town of Hajjin,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The air strikes “killed nine civilians, including six children, and two IS jihadists,” the Britain-based monitor said.
The coalition did not immediately comment on the alleged fatalities but has repeatedly said it does its utmost to avoid civilian casualties.
The SDF broke into the key Daesh holdout of Hajjin on Thursday after months of fighting that has seen the militants launch vicious counter-attacks.
“The Syrian Democratic Forces have advanced into more territory once held by Daesh and thwarted their multiple counter offensives,” US-led coalition spokesman Sean Ryan said Friday.
He said Daesh losses had been “very high” and that intelligence reported jihadists had tried to flee across the border to Iraq but were prevented by Iraqi forces.
In almost three months of battle, more than 820 militants and more than 480 US-backed fighters have been killed, the Observatory says.
More than 300 civilians have been killed in that period, it says, though the coalition insists it does not target non-combatants.
Daesh overran large parts of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, declaring a “caliphate” across territories it controlled.
But various offensives in both countries have routed the militants from most of that land, crushing their dreams of statehood.
In Syria, the militants retain a presence in the vast Badia desert that stretches to the Iraqi border, as well as the pocket under attack around Hajjin.
Syria’s war has killed 360,000 people and displaced millions since starting in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-regime protests.


Anti-Assad fighters withdraw from key area of northwest Syria

Updated 20 August 2019

Anti-Assad fighters withdraw from key area of northwest Syria

  • The withdrawal means an important Turkish observation point in the nearby town of Morek is effectively surrounded by government forces
  • After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition to President Bashar

BEIRUT: Jihadists and allied rebels withdrew from a key area of northwestern Syria Tuesday as President Bashar Assad’s forces pressed an offensive against the jihadist-run Idlib region, a war monitor said.
The fighters pulled back from the town of Khan Sheikun and the countryside to its south overnight and in the early hours of Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The withdrawal means an important Turkish observation point in the nearby town of Morek is effectively surrounded by government forces, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
On Monday, a Turkish military convoy crossed the border into the Idlib region, sparking condemnation from Damascus as Ankara alleged air strikes had targeted its troops.
The convoy halted just north of Khan Sheikhun on Monday afternoon and remained there on Tuesday, after government forces took control of a section of the highway into the town.
Pro-government newspaper Al-Watan said Monday morning’s strike targeted a rebel vehicle scouting the road in front of the Turkish convoy.
“The Syrian army in its own way sent a clear message to the Turkish regime by forcing convoys sent by Ankara to help the terrorists in Khan Sheikhun to come to a halt,” it said.
It was a “clear warning against any Turkish attempt to resuscitate the terrorists,” the paper said, adding that the strike had “Russian support.”
After eight years of civil war, the Idlib region on the border with Turkey is the last major stronghold of opposition to President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Since January, it has been administered by the Hayat Tahrir Al-Sham alliance, which is led by jihadists from Syria’s former Al-Qaeda affiliate.
The region of some three million people was supposed to be protected by a Turkish-Russian buffer zone deal signed last year.
But government and Russian forces have subjected it to heavy bombardment since late April, killing more than 860 civilians, according to an Observatory toll.
The United Nations says the shelling and air strikes have also hit dozens of health facilities and caused more than 400,000 people to flee their homes.
The war in Syria has killed more than 370,000 people since the rebels first took arms following the brutal repression of anti-government protests in 2011.
Rival interventions by outside powers have turned it into a complex conflict with multiple battle fronts that has driven millions of civilians from their homes.