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US-led coalition accused of killing civilians in Raqqa airstrikes

The reported airstrike took place in the village of Hisha, north of Raqqa city [AFP]

Date of publication: 9 November, 2016

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Monitoring groups claimed on Wednesday that coalition airstrikes had killed 20 people in Raqqa. Elsewhere, rebel groups and regime forces continue to do battle in Aleppo province.

Syrian activists have accused the US-led coalition currently conducting airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria of killing civilians in attacks in Raqqa province, early on Wednesday. 

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights 20 people were killed, and a further 30 wounded, in the attack which took place in the village of Heisha, north of the IS stronghold of Raqqa.

Another monitoring group, Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently, said that 23 civilians had been killed in the attack.

A spokesman for the US-led forces has since said that the coalition has conducted airstrikes in the area but did not confirm claims of civilian casualties. 

“More information is needed to conclusively determine responsibility,” said US Col. John Dorrian, in comments published in The Associated Press.

The US-led coalition is currently flying dozens of aerial missions over the Raqqa region in support of Washington-backed Kurdish fighters advancing on the city. On Sunday, the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces say they have committed 30,000 fighters to the offensive, which comes at a time when IS’ Iraqi stronghold of Mosul is also under attack by a joint force lead by the Iraqi Army and Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

In October, Amnesty International called for US-led coalition forces carrying out airstrikes in Syria to disclose their reports of civilian casualties from operations to the public, stating that eleven attacks studied by the humanitarian watchdog appeared to have killed as many as 300 civilians.

Elsewhere in Syria, concerns are rising that an intensification of regime assaults on East Aleppo is imminent, with claims that Moscow could use global shock and the preoccupation of media organisations with covering Donald Trump’s election as the next US President, as a smokescreen to renew attacks on the rebel-held area. 

Early on Tuesday, Syrian regime forces claimed to have captured a strategically important housing district in West Aleppo, with later reports of aerial bombardment on the al-Assad suburb west of Aleppo amid clashes between rebel groups and pro-regime forces in the Menian, and Jabata al-Khasab districts of the city.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights meanwhile reported that regime bombardment had targeted a number of localities in the suburbs of Damascus including in West Ghoutta, with clashes also reported in the Quneitra countryside, with reports circulating that regime and rebel forces based in the rebel-held district of al-Waer in Homs — the only rebel-held district of the city remaining — had met to discuss a potential ceasefire to end current violence in the area.

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