Feb. 12 (UPI) — The U.S.-led coalition in Syria carried out airstrikes early Tuesday against Islamic State targets — assaults the Syrian government said killed dozens of civilians.
The strikes intended to push militants from one of their last strongholds in eastern Syria and support the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in the village of Baghouz in Deir Az Zor province.
The strikes killed at least 16 civilians, included seven children, Al Jazeera reported. About 600 Islamic State fighters remain in a 1.5-square mile location close to the Iraqi border along the Euphrates River eastern banks.
Syria’s official state-run news agency reported Tuesday 70 civilians were killed or injured.
The forces are attempting to clear the last territories of Islamic State fighters before U.S. forces leave the country.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a report Tuesday 12 fighters from the U.S.-backed SDF were killed in fighting, with 19 IS fighters. The organization accused the group of using civilians as human shields as they tried to hold onto Baghouz as coalition forces moved in.
The human rights organization said 417 civilians, including 151 children, have been killed in fighting in the area since December. The group said the Islamic State executed more than 716 detainees it had arrested on various charges.