Airstrikes in eastern Syrian town leave 35 dead, activists say

Elias Hubbard
May 27, 2017

Dozens of relatives of Islamic State fighters were killed on Friday in new US-led strikes on Syria, just hours after the UN urged nations striking the jihadists to protect civilians.

He cited a May 14 strike that reportedly killed 23 farm workers in a rural area of Raqqa province and an airstrike the following day that is said to have killed at least 59 civilians and wounded dozens in the IS-controlled eastern city of al-Bukamal in Deir el-Zour province.

Thursday's toll brought the known deaths from two days of coalition bombing raids on Mayadeen to 50, the Observatory said, after 15 people were killed in US-led strikes on the town on Wednesday.

Air strikes in mid-May killed almost two dozen farmworkers, majority women, in a village in eastern Raqqa and at least 59 civilians in residential areas of Deir al-Zor, Zeid said.

The US-led coalition against Islamic State said it is careful to avoid civilian casualties in air strikes and investigates any that are reported to have taken place.

"The other nine are Syrian civilians and include five children", Abdel Rahman told AFP. Abu Asim al-Jazeri, an Islamic State planner from Algeria, was killed in Mayadin on May 11, it said.

"Unfortunately, there is little doubt that ISIL continues constantly to kill and endanger civilians, committing war crimes without any compunction whatsoever", U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said in a statement, using an alternate acronym for ISIS. The coalition described Gunes as a Syria-based ISIS external operations facilitator from Turkey who recruited for the group in central Turkey and helped get financial support for attacks against the West.

The U.S. military is already under fire from rights groups for rising civilian casualties in nearby Iraq, where U.S. -backed Iraqi forces are fighting to dislodge the Islamic State from the northern city of Mosul.

"The same civilians who are suffering indiscriminate shelling and summary executions by [the Islamic State], are also falling victim to the escalating airstrikes" in provinces like Raqqa and Deir al-Zor, Hussein said.

However, a spokesman for the US-led coalition denied that its forces had conducted airstrikes near Mayadeen on Thursday and Friday, while telling Reuters that they are in the process of assessing the results.

The global alliance is providing air cover for twin offensives on ISIS's remaining bastion cities: Raqqa in northern Syria and Mosul in neighboring Iraq.

On Thursday, a Pentagon investigation concluded that at least 105 civilians died in an anti-jihadist air strike on an IS weapons cache in Mosul in March.

In addition, Islamic State militants have been killing people in these areas on suspicion that they have provided target coordinates for US-led strikes, Zeid said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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