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US-led airstrikes kill 25 civilians in Syria as UN rights chief decries ‘slaughterhouses’

Air strikes against jihadists forces holding out in remote areas of Deir Ezzor province have killed dozens of civilians in recent weeks, many of them relatives of the fighters.

world Updated: Feb 26, 2018 17:26 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse, Geneva
Syria,Islamic State,Syria war
A man is seen near a damaged building in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta.(REUTERS)

Air strikes on the last pocket of Islamic State jihadists in eastern Syria have killed at least 25 civilians, including seven children, a monitor said on Monday.

The strikes were conducted on Sunday on and around the village of Al-Shaafah, north of the former IS bastion of Albu Kamal near the border with Iraq, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The head of the Britain-based Observatory, Rami Abdel Rahman, said the air strikes were carried out by the US-led coalition.

“Twenty-five civilians, including seven children, were killed in the village of Al-Shaafah and in surrounding desert areas in coalition strikes all through Sunday,” he said.

“This village is in the last pocket controlled by IS in the east of Syria,” he said of Al-Shaafah, which lies on the eastern bank of the Euphrates River.

Air strikes against jihadists forces holding out in remote areas of Deir Ezzor province have killed dozens of civilians in recent weeks, many of them relatives of the fighters.

Coalition-backed Kurdish-led forces have been trying to flush out IS from the east bank of the Euphrates, while Russian-backed regime and allied forces are stationed west of the river.

Abdel Rahman could not say how many IS combatants were taken out by the latest wave of air strikes.

“IS now holds less than three percent of Syrian territory,” he said.

The self-styled “caliphate” IS proclaimed over swathes of Syria and Iraq in 2014 effectively died when anti-jihadist forces retook its de facto capital Raqa and other strongholds such as Albu Kamal late last year.

However the US-led coalition has continued to carry out strikes against small pockets of IS fighters hunkering down in and around small villages in Deir Ezzor province.

Small groups of IS-affiliated fighters are also still active in other parts of Syria.

Meanwhile, the UN rights chief on Monday slammed a lack of action to rein in increasingly brutal conflicts around the world, describing places like Syria, Yemen and Myanmar as “prolific slaughterhouses”.

“Eastern Ghouta, the other besieged areas in Syria, Ituri and the Kasais in the (Democratic Republic of Congo), Taiz in Yemen, Burundi, Northern Rakhine in Myanmar have become some of the most prolific slaughterhouses of humans in recent times because not enough was done, early and collectively, to prevent the rising horrors,” Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein told the UN Human Rights Council.

First Published: Feb 26, 2018 17:26 IST