Air strike kills more than 30 near Raqqa, says Syrian Observatory

World Wednesday 22/March/2017 18:49 PM
By: Times News Service
Air strike kills more than 30 near Raqqa, says Syrian Observatory

Beirut: At least 33 people were killed in an air strike that hit a school sheltering displaced people near the IS-held city of Raqqa, a group that monitors the war in Syria said on Wednesday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it believed the strike was carried out by the U.S.-led coalition against IS.
Observatory activists had counted at least 33 bodies at the site near the village of Al Mansoura, west of Raqqa, Observatory Director Rami Abdulrahman told Reuters. The air strike took place on Monday night, he said.
The U.S.-led coalition has escalated its aerial campaign against the militant group around Raqqa this month, causing numerous civilian casualties, Abdulrahman said.
The nearest IS installation to the site of the air strike was a religious school 3 km (1.9 miles) away, he said.
A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition has previously said that it does everything it can to avoid civilian casualties and that it investigates those that are reported as a result of its air strikes.
The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a Kurdish-led group of militias backed by the U.S.-led coalition, is fighting to isolate Raqqa ahead of an anticipated assault on the city, which IS has used as a command node to plan attacks abroad.
The head of the YPG militia, the strongest in the SDF, said last week that the offensive to retake Raqqa would begin in early April but a spokesman for the U.S. Pentagon said no decision had yet been made.
Meanwhile, the U.S.-led coalition has air-dropped U.S. and allied Syrian forces near Tabqa in Raqqa province, expanding a campaign by SDF militias against IS.
The operation aims both to capture the Al Tabqa area, across the Euphrates from the SDF's other main holdings, and to curb Syrian government advances in that direction, the SDF's Raqqa campaign said in a statement on social media.
The landing forces had seized four small villages in the area west of Al Tabqa and cut a main highway that links the provinces of Raqqa, Deir Al Zor and Aleppo, the SDF, said.
"American forces have conducted a landing operation for U.S. ground forces, along with special forces" from the Raqqa campaign, it said.
A local official familiar with SDF operations told Reuters the air-drop operation aimed to secure a crossing point for forces coming in boats across the Euphrates, which began arriving at dawn on Wednesday.