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Syria airstrikes kill 31, US hits back at Assad forces

Breaking News2018-02-08

Thirty-one civilians were killed in the bombing of a rebel-held area of Syria on Wednesday, while the US launched retaliatory strikes against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad after they attacked US-backed fighters. 31 killed in Eastern Ghouta Airstrikes killed 31 civilians including 12 children in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region near Syria's capital Damascus on Wednesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The war monitoring group said Syrian government airstrikes and artillery hit the towns of Douma, Beit Sawa and Hammouriyeh in the insurgent-controlled suburbs. The bombing also injured 65 people, the Britain-based organization said. More than 130 people are reported to have been killed in the area since Monday. The Syrian government has repeatedly said it only targets militants. The United Nations called on Tuesday for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Syria of at least a month. UN representatives noted that Eastern Ghouta, the last major rebel bastion near Damascus after almost seven years of war, had not received inter-agency aid since November. The army and its allies have besieged Eastern Ghouta, a pocket of satellite towns and farms under the control of rebel factions, since 2013. Civil defense members carry an injured man to an ambulance amid dust after an airstrike in the besieged town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, February 7, 2018. US launches retaliatory strikes US aircraft carried out rare, retaliatory strikes in Syria's Deir al-Zor province on Wednesday against forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after they attacked US-backed fighters' headquarters there, US officials said. No US troops embedded with the local fighters at their headquarters were believed to have been wounded or killed in the attack, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. The US-led coalition fighting ISIL described the attack on the headquarters as "unprovoked," but offered little information in its terse statement confirming the attack. The coalition did not disclose whether US troops had been present or involved in the retaliatory strike or offer any details on which forces attacked the Syrian Democratic Forces' (SDF) headquarters. The SDF are a US-backed alliance of militias in northern and eastern Syria. "Syrian pro-regime forces initiated an unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters Feb. 7," the statement said. It said the incident took place eight kilometers east of the Euphrates River. "In defense of coalition and partner forces, the coalition conducted strikes against attacking forces to repel the act of aggression against partners engaged in the Global Coalition's defeat-Daesh mission," the statement said, using an Arab acronym for ISIL. The Syrian army is backed by Iranian-backed militias and Russian forces. The US-led coalition did not say whether any pro-Syrian fighters were killed in the retaliatory strike. (REUTERS)

Thirty-one civilians were killed in the bombing of a rebel-held area of Syria on Wednesday, while the US launched retaliatory strikes against forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad after they attacked US-backed fighters.

31 killed in Eastern Ghouta

Airstrikes killed 31 civilians including 12 children in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta region near Syria's capital Damascus on Wednesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The war monitoring group said Syrian government airstrikes and artillery hit the towns of Douma, Beit Sawa and Hammouriyeh in the insurgent-controlled suburbs. The bombing also injured 65 people, the Britain-based organization said.

More than 130 people are reported to have been killed in the area since Monday.

The Syrian government has repeatedly said it only targets militants. The United Nations called on Tuesday for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Syria of at least a month.

UN representatives noted that Eastern Ghouta, the last major rebel bastion near Damascus after almost seven years of war, had not received inter-agency aid since November.

The army and its allies have besieged Eastern Ghouta, a pocket of satellite towns and farms under the control of rebel factions, since 2013.

 Civil defense members carry an injured man to an ambulance amid dust after an airstrike in the besieged town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, February 7, 2018.

Civil defense members carry an injured man to an ambulance amid dust after an airstrike in the besieged town of Douma in Eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, February 7, 2018.

US launches retaliatory strikes

US aircraft carried out rare, retaliatory strikes in Syria's Deir al-Zor province on Wednesday against forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after they attacked US-backed fighters' headquarters there, US officials said.

No US troops embedded with the local fighters at their headquarters were believed to have been wounded or killed in the attack, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The US-led coalition fighting ISIL described the attack on the headquarters as "unprovoked," but offered little information in its terse statement confirming the attack.

The coalition did not disclose whether US troops had been present or involved in the retaliatory strike or offer any details on which forces attacked the Syrian Democratic Forces' (SDF) headquarters.

The SDF are a US-backed alliance of militias in northern and eastern Syria.

"Syrian pro-regime forces initiated an unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces headquarters Feb. 7," the statement said.

It said the incident took place eight kilometers east of the Euphrates River.

"In defense of coalition and partner forces, the coalition conducted strikes against attacking forces to repel the act of aggression against partners engaged in the Global Coalition's defeat-Daesh mission," the statement said, using an Arab acronym for ISIL.

The Syrian army is backed by Iranian-backed militias and Russian forces. The US-led coalition did not say whether any pro-Syrian fighters were killed in the retaliatory strike.

(REUTERS)

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