New suspected US-led Syria raids kill dozens of civilians

New suspected US-led Syria raids kill dozens of civilians

BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
New suspected US-led Syria raids kill dozens of civilians

Smoke billows following a reported airstrike by government forces in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on November 7, 2015. AFP Photo

Suspected U.S.-led coalition air strikes killed at least 26 civilians in a Syrian village on Dec. 7, piling pressure on the alliance after allegations another bombing raid left regime soldiers dead.

Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said strikes on Dec. 7 on the village of Al-Khan in northeastern Syria only left civilians dead.

Rahman said ISIL was in control of Al-Khan but is only on its outskirts, “which is why all of the deaths were civilians.”

The death toll included at least seven children and four women, he said, adding that it was likely to rise as more than a dozen civilians were still missing under rubble.

The coalition has been bombarding the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) for more than a year in Syria and neighboring Iraq, where the jihadists have declared a self-styled caliphate.

US ‘assessing credibility’

Meanwhile, tthe U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIL said on Dec. 8 that it was “assessing the credibility” of reports its strikes killed at least 26 civilians in Syria. 

“Every time we get information about the possibility of a civilian casualty incident, we always do a credibility assessment on that information,” Colonel Steve Warren, a Baghdad-based spokesman for the U.S-led coalition, told AFP.

“If the information is found to be credible, we’ll conduct an investigation, and we’ll release the results of that investigation.” 

He could not say immediately whether U.S.-led coalition planes were active on Dec. 7 in the area of the alleged deadly strikes on the village of Al-Khan. 

He said it was too early to say how long the process of assessing the credibility of the claims would take, noting “right now all we have is a statement that we’ve read in the newspapers, that’s not much to go on.”

“If we get further information, if someone sends us photographs, if someone from one of the groups contacts us with additional information, that speeds the process along,” he added.

The allegations of U.S.-led coalition air strikes killing civilians came a day after Syrian government said the coalition had carried out a deadly air strike on a Syrian army camp, but officials from the U.S-led alliance said the report was false. 

Syria said four coalition jets killed three soldiers and wounded 13 in the eastern Deir al-Zor province on Dec. 6 evening, calling it an act of aggression, the first time it has made such an accusation.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported earlier that jets likely to be from the coalition hit part of the Saeqa military camp near the town of Ayyash in Deir al-Zor province, killing four Syrian army personnel. 

But Brett McGurk, U.S. President Barack Obama’s envoy to the coalition, said on his Twitter account “Reports of coalition involvement are false.”

Any such strike by U.S.-led coalition planes, which have been focusing their fire on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, would further complicate an increasingly regional conflict now nearly five years old.