US-led strikes kill 15 civilians in northeast Syria

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the latest civilian casualties came after two days of civilian deaths in US-led strikes in Hasakeh

BEIRUT, Lebanon (Feb. 19, 2016) — Strikes by a US-led coalition against the Islamic State group (IS, formerly known as ISIS or the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq) killed at least 15 civilians, including 3 children, in northeastern Syria on Thursday, February 18 a monitor said.

The strikes hit 4 ISIS-controlled villages in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, saying the toll could rise.

It said 9 ISIS fighters had also been killed in the strikes on the 4 villages.

The Britain-based monitor said the latest civilian casualties came after two days of civilian deaths in US-led strikes in Hasakeh.

It reported another 8 civilians, including one woman, were killed in US-led strikes on another ISIS-controlled village in the province on Wednesday, February 17.

Strikes elsewhere in the province also killed 26 ISIS fighters on the same day, it said.

And on Tuesday, February 16 15 civilians were killed in US-led strikes on the town of Al-Shadadi, the group said.

That brought the number of civilians reported killed in US-led strikes in Hasakeh to 38 since Tuesday.

Lieutenant General Charles Brown, who leads the US air forces in the Middle East, said he was aware of the allegations.

“Like we do for every potential civilian casualty, we go through an assessment to assess the credibility,” Brown told Pentagon reporters in a video briefing.

“At the same time as we’re doing that … we’re always trying to mitigate any civilian casualties.”

The US-led coalition has reportedly stepped up its raids in Hasakeh since the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces alliance launched a new operation against ISIS in the southern part of the province on Tuesday.

The alliance has scored successes against ISIS in other parts of the province in the past, backed by the coalition which began strikes in Syria in September 2014.

It has rarely acknowledged civilian deaths in its campaign against ISIS.

In January, it admitted 3 “likely” civilian deaths last year near the ISIS stronghold of Raqa, bringing to at least 21 the number of civilians the coalition has acknowledged killing in both Syria and neighboring Iraq.

The Observatory said last month that the coalition campaign had killed some 332 civilians in Syria since it began, among them 90 children.

In total, the campaign has killed more than 4,250 people in Syria, according to the monitor, which relies on a network of sources on the ground.


  by Agence France-Presse | Rappler.com