US-led coalition strikes kill 14 civilians in east Syria: monitor

BEIRUT: At least 14 civilians were killed Saturday in US-led coalition air strikes on Daesh’s last holdout in eastern Syria, a monitor said.
“Fourteen civilians, including five children under the age of 18, were killed in the coalition air raids on the villages of Hajjin, Sousa and Al-Shaafa” in eastern Deir Ezzor province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“The death toll is likely to rise due to the number of seriously wounded,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
At least 9 Daesh militants were killed in the raids, he added.
The coalition was not immediately available for comment.
Strikes on the area intensified following an attempted Daesh attack on a coalition base in the nearby village of Al-Bahra, the Britain-based monitor said.
Daesh overran large swathes of Syria and neighboring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a “caliphate” in land it controlled.
But the extremist group has since lost most of its territory to various offensives in both countries.
In Syria, the group has seen its presence reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and a pocket in Deir Ezzor that contains Hajjin, Sousa and Al-Shaafa.
A Kurdish-Arab alliance backed by the coalition launched an offensive in September to wrest the Deir Ezzor pocket from Daesh.
But on Wednesday the alliance, the Syrian Democratic Forces, suspended its fight against the extremists after Turkish forces fired on the group’s positions.
The coalition estimates that 2,000 Daesh fighters remain in the Hajjin pocket.
A total of more than 360,000 people have been killed since Syria’s war erupted in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.

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