US-led coalition airstrike kills 33 civilians in Daesh-held Syrian town
BEIRUTMar 23, 2017 - 12:00 am GMT+3
Mar 23, 2017 12:00 am
At least 33 people were killed in a U.S.-led coalition strike on a school used as a center for displaced people near a Daesh-held Syrian town south of Al-Mansoura, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Wednesday.
The strikes on the town held by the Daesh group in the northern province of Raqqa, "took place in the early hours of Tuesday," the monitor group said.
"We can now confirm that 33 people were killed, and they were displaced civilians from Raqqa, Aleppo and Homs," Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
"They're still pulling bodies out of the rubble until now. Only two people were pulled out alive," Abdel Rahman told reporters. The U.S.-led coalition has escalated its aerial campaign against the militant group around Raqqa this month, causing numerous civilian casualties, Abdulrahman said.
The nearest Daesh installation to the site of the airstrike was a religious school 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) away, he said.
A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition has previously said that it does everything it can to avoid civilian casualties and that it investigates those that are reported as a result of its airstrikes.
Top officials from the 68-nation alliance fighting Daesh are set to meet in Washington on Wednesday to hear more about U.S. President Donald Trump's plan to destroy the terrorist group's remaining strongholds in Iraq and Syria.
The Britain-based monitor, which relies on a network of sources inside Syria for its information, says it determines what planes carried out raids according to their type, location, flight patterns and the munitions involved.
"Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently," an activist group that publishes news from Daesh-held territory in Syria, also reported the raids.
"The school that was targeted hosts nearly 50 displaced families," the collective said.
The U.S.-led coalition has been bombing Daesh in Syria since 2014 and is backing an offensive to defeat the group in Raqqa city, the de facto heart of the group's so-called "Islamic caliphate."
The regime's news agency SANA also reported the air raid, accusing the U.S.-led coalition of inflicting "dozens" of casualties and almost completely destroying the school site.
Earlier this month, the coalition said its raids there and in Iraq and unintentionally killed at least 220 civilians. But other monitors say the number is much higher.
More than 320,000 people have been killed and millions more displaced since Syria's conflict erupted in March 2011 with protests against Bashar Assad.