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US-led coalition air strikes kill at least 32 civilians in east Syria: Monitor

Coalition strikes in Syria alone have killed more than 3,300 civilians, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says
US-backed forces near the village of Sousa in the province of Deir Ezzor, 13 September (AFP)

Air strikes by the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS) group in eastern Syria have killed at least 32 civilians in less than 24 hours, a war monitor said on Friday.

Strikes on the village of Sousa killed 18 civilians, including seven children, late on Thursday and 14 more civilians on Friday, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Dozens were wounded and many remained under the rubble in the village, which is in the eastern Syrian province of Deir Ezzor near the Iraqi border, said Rami Abdel Rahman, who heads the group.

Nine IS fighters were also killed in the raids, he said.

IS overran large areas of Syria and neighbouring Iraq in 2014, proclaiming a "caliphate" on the lands it controlled.

The group has since lost most of that territory to various offensives in both countries.

In Syria, the group has seen its presence reduced to parts of the vast Badia desert and a pocket in Deir Ezzor that includes Sousa.

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While IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's whereabouts is unknown, the Syrian Democratic Forces - a Kurdish-led group that is backed by the US - believe other "major leaders" are hiding out in the pocket, according to Deir Ezzor military council chief Ahmad Abu Khawla.

"Most of the frontline commanders in this pocket are Iraqis," he told AFP last month.

The SDF launched an offensive last month to wrest the Deir Ezzor pocket from IS, and it has said the battle will likely take longer than expected.

Since 2014, the US-led coalition has taken direct responsibility for more than 1,100 civilian deaths in Syria and Iraq, but rights groups estimate the number to be much higher.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says coalition strikes in Syria alone have killed more than 3,300 civilians.

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