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US air strikes kill 23-member family in Syria

December 14, 2017 at 4:18 pm

Syrians try to rescue those who are trapped under collapsed buildings after the Assad regime carried out air strikes in Damascus, Syria [Tarık Almasry/Anadolu Agency]

Air strikes by the US-led coalition in Syria have killed 23 civilians – all belonging to the same family – in a village held by Daesh in Deir Ez-Zor province yesterday.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a war monitor that gathers eye-witness reports from the ground, confirmed that “at least 23 civilians, among them eight children and six women, were killed Wednesday before dawn by air strikes carried out by the US-led coalition, targeting a village controlled by Daesh on the eastern banks of the Euphrates river.”

US-backed opposition forces, particularly the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are currently fighting to gain control over the last patches of territory that Daesh still holds, and on Tuesday captured a neighbouring village.

Read more: 87 dead in Syria as regime pounds besieged Ghouta

According to a US military spokesman, an assessment of the alleged civilian casualties will be carried out, but “only valid military targets” are subject to air strikes.

The spokesman, Colonel Ryan Dillon of the US Army, emphasised that “we apply rigorous standards to our targeting process and take extraordinary efforts to protect non-combatants.” He also said that the coalition cleared four miles of territory along the eastern bank of the Euphrates River on the same day of the air strikes.

Dillon wrote in a tweet that “Daesh is weak but still a threat — terrorists lurking in Mid-Euphrates River Valley.”

Read more: US to maintain military presence in Syria ‘as long as necessary’

After 2014, the war against Daesh was waged on multiple fronts by the US-led coalition, Russia, Syrian and Iraqi government forces, and various opposition forces, causing the group to lose the vast bulk of its territory in Syria and Iraq. Both the Iraqi government and Russia have declared victories over Daesh.

Since its formation in 2014, the US-led coalition has admitted to unintentionally killing 801 civilians as a result of over 28,000 air strikes it conducted across Syria and Iraq. The number of civilian deaths is expected to be higher as there has been criticism of who the US deems a “civilian” during times of war.