US-Led Air Strikes Against ISIS In Syria ‘Killed 10 Civilians’
Monitor Group Says 10 Civilians Killed In Recent US-Led Strikes
Jets Target ISIS At Least Twice After Fierce Shelling Of Town
US Stresses Iraq In ISIS Fight Even As Syria Strikes Continue
A group monitoring the violence in Syria said on Saturday recent US-led strikes in the country had killed 10 civilians. Washington said there was no evidence to back up the report.
Also on Saturday, US-led coalition jets struck suspected Islamic State (Isis) targets at least twice around the besieged Syrian town of Kobani, after fierce shelling by the insurgents hit the town centre. Shelling continued after the strikes, according to witnesses; some mortar shells were reported to have hit Mursitpinar, a border crossing within Turkey.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said seven civilians were killed when an air strike hit a gas plant near the town of al-Khasham is the eastern Deir al-Zor province on Friday, and three civilians were killed in an air strike on Thursday night in the north east province of al-Hassakah.
Reuters could not independently confirm the reports due to security restrictions.
“We have seen no evidence at this time to corroborate claims of civilian casualties. I can assure you that before any mission, every precaution is taken to ensure civilians are not harmed,” said US Central Command spokesman Colonel Patrick Ryder.
“Regardless, we take reports of civilian casualties or damage to civilian facilities seriously and we have a process to investigate each allegation.”
The coalition, which has been bombing Isis targets in Iraq since August, extended the campaign to Syria in September. Close to 200,000 people have been killed in Syria’s three-year civil war, according to the United Nations.
Isis militants have been battling Kurdish fighters for a month to take control of Kobani, but stepped-up coalition air strikes have helped Kurds fend off the advance.
On Saturday a commander for the YPG, the Syrian Kurdish militia defending Kobani, who would only gave her code name, Dicle, said renewed attacks were aimed at severing the town’s last link with Turkey.
“They want to cut off Kobani’s connection with the rest of the world,” she told Reuters by telephone. “Turkey is not allowing in fighters or weapons, but they send aid at Mursitpinar. The Islamic State wants to destroy this gate so that we will be completely trapped here.”
On Friday, General Lloyd Austin, the commanding officer of US Central Command, told reporters: “Iraq is our main effort, and it has to be, and the things that we’re doing right now in Syria are being done primarily to shape the conditions in Iraq.”
German police have arrested two men suspected of supporting Isis and raided properties across the country of another 13 suspected supporters of militant Islamist groups, prosecutors said on Saturday.
The two men were arrested in the western city of Aachen and identified as a 38-year-old Tunisian, Kamel Ben Yahia S, and a 28-year-old Russian, Yusup G, federal prosecutors said in a statement.
The Tunisian is suspected of providing clothing worth over €1,100 ($1,400) and €3,400 in cash to Isis since July 2013 and of smuggling a 17-year-old boy from Germany to Syria via Turkey to join the group. The Russian is accused of helping the smuggling and of being a member of a foreign terrorist organisation.
Authorities believe the other suspects supported either Isis or Ahrar al-Sham, another Syrian Islamist group, by providing thousands of boots and other military clothing.