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US strikes kill 38 civilians in Syria’s Hasaka: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
People carry a stretcher amidst debris after a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders was hit by airstrikes in Idlib Province, Syria, Feb. 15, 2016. ©AFP

Nearly 40 civilians, including children, have been killed in northeastern Syria in a series of airstrikes carried out by the US-led coalition "fighting" Daesh terrorists.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday that US air assaults have claimed 38 lives in Syria’s Hasakah Province since Tuesday.

According to the report, 15 of the victims lost their lives when the air raids targeted a bakery in the city of al-Shadadi in Hasakah near the Iraqi border.

The aerial attacks against three Hasakah villages also killed 15 others, including three children, on Thursday, while eight more civilians died in similar raids elsewhere in the province.

US Lieutenant General Charles Brown, head of US Air Forces Central Command, said he was aware of reports of civilian casualties, adding the US-led coalition will begin assessing their credibility and start an investigation if required.

“I do know that we’ve been striking at that area over the past several days,” Brown said.

The UK-based monitoring group said 35 members of the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group were killed in separate air raids near the town of al-Houl, near the Iraqi border, and farther south.

The civilian casualties came after a warplane hit a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF, in the northern province of Idlib on Monday, killing at least 25 people.

The Paris-based medical aid group has slammed the attack on its facility as “deliberate,” and called for an independent investigation into the killing.

Damascus says “intelligence information” showed US warplanes carried out the attack, but Washington has denied any involvement.

What is the US doing in Syria?

The US and a number of its allies have been conducting air raids against what they claim to be Daesh positions inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate.

The coalition has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians and destroying Syria's infrastructure.  

This handout picture released on Sept. 8, 2015 shows a French army Rafale fighter taking off from a base in the Persian Gulf to Syria. ©AFP

Last October, the US administration abandoned its efforts to build up a new militant force inside Syria to combat Daesh, acknowledging the failure of its USD 500-million campaign to train thousands of militants.

The US said it would instead use the money to provide ammunition and some weapons for groups fighting against the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

US officials said at the time that the Defense Department’s training sites across the Middle East, including the ones in Turkey and Jordan, would soon suspend almost all operations.

They unveiled a revamped program that briefly screens Arab militant commanders of existing Syrian units before equipping them with ammunition and arms.

The decision to end militant training was taken after mounting evidence showed the mission had resulted in no more than a handful of American-coached militants.

Later, dozens of US special operations troops were deployed to Syria to “help organize” the militants fighting on the ground against government troops.

Sumptuous sorties 

The Syrian government and its allies have questioned US objectives in the Arab country. 

In an October 2015 interview, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cast doubt on US-led airstrikes in Syria, saying it was unclear “why the results of so many combat sorties are so insignificant.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Lavrov said Washington must decide whether its aim was to eliminate terrorists or to use extremist forces to pursue its own political agenda.

“Maybe their stated goal is not entirely sincere? Maybe it is regime change?” Lavrov said.

The Russian minister also said weapons and munitions supplied by the US to the so-called “moderate Syrian opposition” were ending up in terrorist hands.

“I want to be honest, we barely have any doubt that at least a considerable part of these weapons will fall into the terrorists’ hands.” 

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