Report: 40 killed in US-led strikes vs. IS
U.S-led coalition airstrikes on the last pocket held by Islamic State militants in Syria near the Iraqi border killed at least 40 people, mostly women and children, a war monitor and Syrian state media reported.
The coalition confirmed strikes in the area but said no “civilian casualties are associated” with them, reiterating that it takes measures to avoid noncombatant casualties.
“We have witnessed (IS) 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 AP.
The remote area near the border with Iraq is difficult to access and it was not possible to independently verify the reports.
However, Rami Abdurrahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the early Saturday airstrikes hit homes in Abu al-Hassan village, near the town of Hajin, which lies along the border with Iraq.
Abdurrahman said the airstrikes killed at least 43 people, including 17 children and 12 women.
Activist Omar Abou Leila, who monitors the war in Deir el-Zour from Europe, also confirmed the strikes but said it was difficult to verify the death toll. Abou Leila said IS militants are preventing civilians from leaving the area, resulting in the high casualty toll among them.