At least 23 civilians, including some ten children, have been killed in suspected US-led airstrikes in the eastern Syrian province of Hasakah yesterday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The victims of the strike on the village of Al-Qasr are believed to have belonged to two families, with several people still in critical condition.
“We don’t know for the moment if the US-led international coalition or Iraqi forces carried out the strike,” the UK-based rights watch group said.
Yesterday, the State Department announced that US backed forces had relaunched their offensive to seize the last territory controlled by Daesh near the Iraqi border.
“We have rearranged our ranks,” Lilwa Al-Abdallah, spokeswoman for the offensive, told reporters at a press conference at an oilfield on the eastern bank of the Euphrates river. “Our heroic forces will liberate these areas and secure the border. … We welcome the support of the Iraqi forces.”
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were forced to pause their battle in the east after Turkey launched an assault in January against militia groups in the northern Afrin region, the Pentagon said this week.
Turkey is currently undertaking an air and ground offensive in Syria as part of “Operation Olive Branch” against the YPG, Kurdish militias that have been affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), a designated terror organisation that has launched continual attacks against Turkey. The YPG make up a large proportion of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which the US has backed in the fight against Daesh.
SDF militias redeployed some 1,700 fighters from eastern fronts against Daesh to help fight Turkish forces, only for Turkey to successfully captured Afrin in March. Ahmed Abu Khawla, commander of the Deir Ez-Zor military council fighting under the SDF, said that those forces have now returned to the east to oust Daesh militants.
On Monday, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said that the US will not withdraw its forces from Syria unless peace is fully achieved throughout the country.
“We do not want to simply pull out before the diplomats have won the peace, so you win the fight and then you win the peace,” Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.
The announcement comes after conflicting statements from US President Donald Trump and the State Department last month on the US’ future presence in the region.