US-led coalition warplanes kill 20 civilians in raids near Syria’s Raqqa

This picture taken on February 1, 2016 by the French Defense Audiovisual Communication and Production Unit (ECPAD) shows a Rafale fighter jet taxiing on an undisclosed base purportedly used for raids against Daesh. (Photo by AFP)
This picture taken on February 1, 2016 by the French Defense Audiovisual Communication and Production Unit (ECPAD) shows a Rafale fighter jet taxiing on an undisclosed base purportedly used for raids against Daesh. (Photo by AFP)

A US-led coalition air strike killed at least 20 civilians in a village north of so-called Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, activists say, the BBC reported.

According to the BBC, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that six women and a child were among those who died in the raids on al-Heisha overnight.

The IS-held village has been the target of a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters seeking to capture Raqqa. A coalition spokesman confirmed that it had conducted strikes in the area, the BBC added.

But Col John Dorrian told the AFP news agency that “more specific information is needed to conclusively determine responsibility” for any civilian casualties.

A coalition statement said seven strikes near the town of Ain Issa, about 14km (9 miles) west of al-Heisha, on Tuesday had engaged six IS tactical units and destroyed three fighting positions, a vehicle, and a car bomb facility, the BBC explained.

A spokeswoman for the Kurdish-Arab alliance, the Syria Democratic Forces (SDF), dismissed the reports of civilian casualties as “IS news”.

On Sunday, the SDF announced that it had begun a campaign to isolate and ultimately take control of Raqqa, which IS has controlled for almost three years, it added.

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