38 killed in US-led strikes in Syria’s Hasakeh over 48 hours: Observatory
BEIRUT – Reuters
AP photoAt least 38 people were killed in air strikes carried out by a U.S.-led coalition in Hasakeh province in northeast Syria in the past two days, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said on Feb. 18.
The toll included at least 15 people who were killed when strikes hit a bakery in the city of al-Shadadi near the border with Iraq, the Britain-based Observatory said.
Al-Shadadi is a logistics hub for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), located on a network of highways and whose capture would isolate Raqqa, the de-facto capital of the hardline group.
The U.S.-led coalition has been hitting ISIL targets in areas of Syria and Iraq which the group controls, including in Hasakeh and Raqqa provinces.
A day earlier, Colonel Steve Warren, a spokesman for the U.S.-led military campaign against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, said that Russian air strikes in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had intensified, despite Western calls for Russia to stop the air campaign.
Major powers agreed last week to a limited cessation of hostilities in Syria, in a deal that takes effect at the end of this week but was not signed by any warring parties - the Damascus government and numerous rebel factions fighting it.
Several Western countries said there was no hope for a pause in combat without a halt to Russian bombing. Russia says the “cessation” does not apply to its air strikes, which have shifted the balance of power towards Assad.
“There has been no lessening of the intensity of the Russian and the [Syrian] regime air campaign,” Colonel.
“If anything it’s increased.”
Warren said the Russians fired three short-range ballistic missiles in the suburbs of Aleppo in the last few days, though he said the United States was unsure what sites the missiles hit.
The Syrian government has also continued using “barrel bombs,” he said. The use of barrel bombs - oil drums or cylinders packed with explosives and shrapnel - has drawn international condemnation.
“We don’t see any notable preparation for the temporary cessation of hostilities,” Warren said.