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Many civilians among 54 dead in anti-IS strike in Syria: monitor

AFP  |  Beirut 

An air strike on one of the last holdouts of the Islamic State group in has killed 54 people, more than half of them civilians, a war monitor said today.

The US-led coalition fighting the jihadists said it or its allies may have carried out air raids in the area, and it was investigating the alleged civilian deaths.

The raid late yesterday on an ice factory near the village of close to the Iraqi border killed 28 civilians and 26 IS jihadists, the Britain-based for Human Rights said.

It was not immediately clear if the raid on the eastern province was carried out by an Iraqi plane or the coalition, the monitor said.

In a written statement, the US-led alliance said: "The coalition or our partner forces may have conducted strikes in the vicinity of and Baghour Fukhani" yesterday.

"We are forwarding the report to our Civilian Casualty Cell for further assessment on this allegation," it said.

Iraqi warplanes have recently carried out strikes against IS in eastern Syria, while coalition aircraft have been supporting Kurdish-led fighters battling the jihadists.

The IS fighters were Syrians and Iraqis, the Observatory said.

State agency reported the strike late Thursday, saying more than 30 civilians were killed and accusing the coalition of carrying it out.

IS fighters swept across and in 2014, declaring a cross-border "caliphate" in areas they controlled.

They have since lost most of that territory to various offensives, but still retain pockets of land in including in the country's vast and in

IS fighters have faced two separate offensives in on either side of the River that cuts through the province.

Russia-backed regime forces have pushed back the jihadists on the western side of the Euphrates, while the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have battled them to its east.

lies to the east of the River, in a pocket of territory still held by the jihadists.

IS fighters have been expelled from most urban centres in Syria, but analysts say they have retained their ability to pounce from the desert.

Last month, an IS incursion into the town of on the west of the left dozens of pro-regime fighters dead.

Attacks spiked after the jihadists were evacuated from their last bastion outside in May, many heading to the Badiya desert, the Observatory said.

IS also has a presence in the northwestern province of Idlib, as well as in the southwestern province of where it has been battling opposition fighters in recent days.

The government and rebels last week announced a ceasefire agreement as the regime moves to retake control of the whole of the province, but IS is excluded from that deal.

The jihadists hold a corner of territory in on the border with and the Israeli-occupied

Overnight Wednesday-Thursday, they seized the nearby village of from rebels who had agreed to hand over their heavy weapons to the regime after deadly clashes.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, July 13 2018. 18:25 IST