Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com & The Associated Press – 2017-04-09 17:51:22
US Airstrikes Kill 21, Mostly Civilians, in Northern Syria
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(April 8, 2017) — While US “outrage” at civilian casualties from Syrian airstrikes is being used as a pretext for military intervention against the Syrian government, US forces continue their own airstrikes backing military operations in northeastern Syria, and are killing an increasing number of civilians in their own right.
Today, US airstrikes near Raqqa killed at least 21 people, mostly civilians, and while some of the strikes were near fighting between US-backed troops and ISIS, at least one of the strikkes appears to have been a deliberate attack on a boatload of civilians attempting to cross the Euphrates River.
The boat was carrying about 40 people, and NGOs say that at least seven bodies, six of them children, have been recovered so far, with more missing. The US has dropped leaflets in the area urging civilians to flee toward the Euphrates, but apparently dropped a second leaflet warning them not to try to cross the river or they’d be attacked.
The airstrikes centered around the village of Hanida, which is along the Euphrates River west of Raqqa. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported a number of additional civilians killed in US strikes on the village. That the US is attacking the village is puzzling, because ISIS is not believed to have any presence in the village itself, and it appears to be at least some distance from the fight.
The biggest target in the Hanida strikes was an Internet cafe, with the US strike destroying the site, killing 14 people within, including four children. The US is so far not offering any justification for any of the attacks in the area.
Activists: Civilians among 21 Killed in US-led Syria Strikes
The Associated Press
BEIRUT (April 8, 2017) — US-led coalition aircraft struck two locations in northern Syria on Saturday, killing at least 21 people, including a woman and her six children who were on a boat fleeing clashes between the Islamic State group and US-backed fighters, activist groups said.
Activist groups that operate in IS-held territory and are opposed to the militants have reported increasing numbers of civilian deaths from US-led airstrikes in recent weeks. The coalition is providing support to a Syrian Kurdish-led force that is on the offensive against the extremist group.
Thousands of people in areas held by IS are trying to flee the violence as preparations are underway to capture the northern city of Raqqa, the extremists’ de facto capital. Activists and residents have said the militants are forcing civilians to stay in order to use them as human shields once the offensive on Raqqa begins.
Leaflets dropped by coalition warplanes in recent weeks gave confusing directions â€” one suggests areas closer to the Euphrates River are safer, but another warns that boats crossing the river will be struck.
Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, an activist group opposed to IS, said a boat carrying about 40 people was hit as it was crossing the Euphrates River in Raqqa province. It said the bodies of a woman and her six children were recovered, while the others are still missing.
The Sound and Picture group, which tracks killings and other abuses in IS-held territory, reported the same casualty estimates. Journalists have virtually no access to areas held by IS, which has captured and killed a number of reporters.
The strike occurred in the Shuaib al-Zeker area, near where the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces are battling IS.
Earlier Saturday, activists and state media said an airstrike by the US-led coalition on the northern IS-held village of Hneida killed at least 14 civilians, including children. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 15 people, including four children, were killed in the airstrike. The Sound and Picture group the airstrike hit an Internet cafe, killing 14 people.
At Least 15 Killed in Suspected US-led Airstrike
Near Raqqa, Syrian Observatory Says
Children among the casualties, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports
Reuters and The Associated Press
(April 8, 2017) — An airstrike believed to have been carried out by the US-led coalition against ISIS killed 15 people, including four children, in a village west of the jihadists’ stronghold of Raqqa on Saturday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The spokesman for the US-led coalition could not be reached for immediate comment.
The airstrike took place at Hanida, some 30 kilometers (20 miles) west of Raqqa on the southern bank of the Euphrates River, the Observatory said.
Elsewhere in Syria, a pair of activist groups reported that a US-led coalition airstrike hit a boat carrying civilians fleeing across the Euphrates River, killing seven members of the same family. The groups “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently” and “Sound and Picture” reported that the attack killed a woman and her six children.
The attack occurred in the Shuaib al-Zeker area near where US-backed Syrian fighters have been on the offensive against IS under the cover of coalition airstrikes.
On Friday, the US fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at Shayrat airbase outside of Homs, Syria, the first American attack on a Syrian government military base since the civil war began.
A Pentagon spokesman said that the base was believed to be where the chemical weapons attack launched on Syrian citizens earlier this week originated. According to the spokesman the targets hit in the attack were “aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage areas, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems and radars.”
Syria called the operation “an aggression” while state TV reported nine civilians killed. Rebels welcomed the US operation.
US President Donald Trump said after his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping that the airstrikes were a national security interest of the United States. He called on “the civilized nations of the world” to join the US in “ending the slaughter and bloodshed in Syria.”
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