At least 23 people, including civilians, were killed yesterday when a US-led air alliance fighting Islamic State in Syria carried out air strikes on the last pockets occupied by the militant group in the east of the country, a war monitor reported.
Six civilians were among the fatalities, while the rest were militant fighters, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
So far, there has been no comment from the alliance.
At least 1,139 Islamic State fighters have been killed in eastern Syria since the the US-backed Syrian Democratic forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led rebel group, started a large offensive in the region in September to expel the radical group from the area, according to the Britain-based watchdog.
Syria’s Kurds have played a major role in fighting Islamic State in war-torn Syria, gaining much of the territory once held by Islamic State in energy-rich eastern Syria.
The SDF has warned that a decision announced last month by US President Donald Trump to withdraw troops from Syria would lead to Islamic State’s resurgence. While Islamic State has suffered territorial losses in eastern Syria, an Al Qaeda affiliate known as Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has recently extended its control in the north-western province of Idlib, the last key opposition stronghold in the country.
11 KILLED IN BLAST
Meanwhile, bombing at an ammunition depot killed 11 people yesterday in the militant-held city of Idlib in northwestern Syria, a Britain-based war monitor said. It targeted the arms store belonging to Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, an alliance led by Syria’s former Al Qaeda affiliate, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. The blast killed seven HTS fighters and four other people, the war monitor said.
“Initial information points to a car bomb,” Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
HTS controls the city of Idlib, as well as the surrounding anti-regime bastion of the same name. Last week, the militant-led alliance took administrative control of the whole of the region — which is made up of a large part of the Idlib province, as well as adjacent chunks of the Aleppo and Hama provinces.
But the Islamic State group also have a presence in the area.
Abdel Rahman said IS was likely responsible for the bombing, after HTS executed members of the extremist group the previous day.
One of the last parts of Syria beyond government control, the Idlib region has been protected from a regime offensive since September by a buffer zone deal agreed by regime ally Russia and rebel backer Turkey.
Before the HTS takeover, the region had been rocked by infighting between militants and rival rebels. The area sees frequent clashes between factions, including targeted assassinations and bomb attacks.
Syria’s war has killed more than 360,000 people since it started in 2011 with the brutal repression of anti-government protests.
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