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150 Islamic State fighters killed in air strike in Syria: US-led coalition force

The air strike air strike targeted a headquarters and command and control centre of the Islamic State in the Syrian town of As Shafah, where remnants of the terror group continue to operate.

world Updated: Jan 24, 2018 15:38 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Syria,US-led coalition force,Islamic State
Turkish soldiers are seen around the area of Mount Bersaya, north of the Syrian town of Azaz near the border with Turkey, on January 23, 2018. (AFP)

About 150 Islamic State fighters were killed in an air strike on a headquarters and command and control centre of the terror group, a spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting the IS has said.

The air strike on Saturday involved “over a week’s worth” of intelligence work involving multiple kinds of coalition intelligence and information from US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fighting the IS on the ground, Col Ryan Dillon told CNN.

“It looked like they (IS fighters) bwere massing for a movement,” Dillon said, noting it is rare for IS fighters to gather in such a large group.

“When they do that, we want to take advantage of it,” he said.

A statement from the coalition said the target was “exclusively” occupied by IS fighters and was under constant surveillance, ruling out the possibility of civilian casualties.

Dillon said the strike occurred in the Syrian town of As Shafah, located in the middle Euphrates river valley, an area where remnants of the IS continue to operate.

An unnamed US military official said the strike was carried out by US Navy F/A-18 jets and unmanned drones. The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt is currently operating in the Gulf in support of strikes against the IS in Syria.

“The strikes underscore our assertion that the fight to liberate Syria is far from over,” Maj Gen James Jarrard, commander of the coalition’s Special Operations Joint Task Force in Syria, said in a statement.

Jarrard said coalition troops and members of the Syrian Democratic Forces “are still finding, targeting and killing ISIS terrorists intent on keeping their extremist hold on the region”.

“We cannot take our focus off our mission, and we must not lose our momentum in taking these terrorists off the battlefield and preventing them from resurfacing somewhere else,” he added.

The air strike and Jarrard’s support for the Syrian Democratic Forces came in the wake of Turkey launching a military operation in Afrin area of northwest Syria targeting Kurdish YPG fighters.

The US backs Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces in northeastern Syria. Ankara says both YPG and the Syrian Democratic Forces are linked to Kurdish separatists engaged in a long-running insurgency against the Turkish government.

A US military official told CNN that the US-backed fighters taking on the IS in the group’s last holdouts in the middle Euphrates river valley comprised 80% Arabs and 20% Kurdish fighters.

First Published: Jan 24, 2018 15:35 IST