BEIRUT: An air strike hit militants and civilians trying to flee the last area controlled by the Daesh group in eastern Syria on Friday, killing at least 20, the country’s state media and opposition activists reported.
The air strike on the Daesh-held village of Baghouz comes as the offensive against the extremists by US-backed fighters of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces has intensified over the past few weeks. It also comes as the United States’ begins the process of withdrawal from Syria.
Thousands of civilians have fled from the area near the Iraqi border recently as Daesh has steadily lost ground.
State news agency SANA said 20 people were killed in the air strike on Baghouz, while the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 23 people were killed. It said 10 Daesh members were among the dead.
Both blamed the US-led coalition that has been providing air cover to the SDF in their months long offensive to capture the area from the extremists.
“Most of those killed were Syrians displaced from nearby areas,” said Europe-based activist Omar Abu Layla of the DeirEzzor 24 monitoring group. He added that the dead included three families who were trying to flee the Daesh-held area to districts controlled by SDF.
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