Middle East

Strikes against ISIS in Raqqa and Deir al-Zor go awry

An injured man stands at a damaged site hit by what activists said were two barrel bombs thrown by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the Qadi Askar district of Aleppo August 10, 2014. REUTERS/Mahmoud Hebbo

BEIRUT: A government airstrike against suspected ISIS positions in the city of Raqqa killed at least 12 civilians, an anti-regime monitoring group said Sunday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based group, said six minors, a female civilian and a male teacher were among the casualties from the strike, which also wounded 23 people.

One casualty was a pregnant woman in her eighth month. Both she and the fetus sustained injuries, obliging doctors to deliver the baby via C-section, the Observatory said.

Amateur video, whose authenticity could not be verified, shows an infant being resuscitated with a respiratory mask on his face and blood-soaked cotton by his side. His chest is seen responding to treatment as his head is wrapped in gauze.

“This baby’s mother was wounded in the belly, and we had to remove him. He was hit in the head by shrapnel. Doctors are trying to save him,” said a commentary on the footage.

A regime airstrike Saturday on the ISIS-held town of Mohasan in Deir al-Zor province, meanwhile, killed five civilians – four members of the same family and a disabled man, the Observatory said.

Militants from the Al-Qaeda splinter group are fighting on a multitude of fronts in Syria’s complex civil war – against an array of rebel groups, regime forces, and the Kurdish YPG militia – while also being targeted by locals in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor.

When ISIS entered Deir al-Zor last month, it seized a number of towns and villages along the Euphrates River, often by making agreements with locals. Since then, attacks have been staged against the jihadists, who have been accused of breaking their word and detaining residents of the area.

Regime forces have only recently begun targeting ISIS positions in several provinces, while anti-regime activists say the strikes have led mainly to civilian casualties.

The Observatory said a car bomb Saturday targeted an ISIS checkpoint in the town of Shaafa in rural Deir al-Zor. While it resulted in a “confirmed” number of ISIS casualties, the blast also killed a man and his son who happened to be in the area.

The Observatory said Sunday that ISIS militants had detained the leader of an Islamist rebel group and three of his fighters, although they belonged to a militia that helped ISIS fighters enter parts of the city of Deir al-Zor last month.

The Observatory said that ISIS fighters had seized large parts of the village of Abu Hamam in Deir al-Zor from members of the Sheaitat tribe, with both sides suffering casualties in the clashes.

In rural Hassakeh province, a number of ISIS fighters were killed in clashes with the Kurdish YPG militia, the Observatory said.

On Saturday, at least 16 civilians were killed in violence in Aleppo, residents and the Observatory said.

Residents found children “torn apart” after a regime helicopter dumped a barrel bomb on a rebel-held area, a local man said.

At least 13 people were killed and 17 wounded in the raid on Maadi in northeastern Aleppo, according to the Observatory.

The monitoring group said the deaths happened when the regime aircraft “dumped a barrel bomb of explosives on a building.”

The residents said the raid happened early in the morning.

“People were asleep ... a grandfather emerged safe and sound but his three sons, all married, and their children, we still don’t know what has happened to them,” one resident said.

“They found four children torn apart after the helicopter dumped its barrel bomb, may God curse him,” the man said, referring to President Bashar Assad.

In another part of the city, three children were killed and a dozen wounded when rebel rockets struck a regime-held district, the Observatory said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 11, 2014, on page 8.




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