Airstrikes Kill 18 in Raqqa Province
At least 18 people were killed in airstrikes believed to have been carried out by U.S. coalition warplanes on Raqqa province Tuesday, Al Jazeera reported.
Another 50 civilians were also wounded in the attack, which targeted areas in the eastern countryside of Raqqa, Al Jazeera said, citing local activist group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently.
The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the death toll at 19 and said that four children and five women were among those killed.
The monitoring group did not state whether coalition warplanes were responsible for the attack, but said that the U.S.-led coalition had intensified its air raids in the area over the past 48 hours.
The airstrikes coincide with a ground offensive spearheaded by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters battling the so-called Islamic State in Raqqa.
Airstrikes Outside Damascus Kill Nine
Airstrikes on the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus killed at least nine people overnight Monday, Reuters reported, citing a war monitor.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that airstrikes on the town of Arbin led to the first civilian casualties since a cease-fire agreement brokered by Moscow came into effect in the area.
According to the monitoring group, at least 30 other people were wounded by airstrikes on Eastern Ghouta overnight and an additional four were injured by air raids that targeted the rebel-held suburbs on Tuesday.
Monday’s attacks came hours after Moscow announced the deployment of its military police to the eastern suburbs of the capital in an attempt to enforce a de-escalation agreement in the area.
Russia denied reports of attacks as “an absolute lie” intended to discredit Moscow’s attempts to enforce a cease-fire around the capital.
“During working contacts with representatives of opposition groups in Eastern Ghouta it was confirmed that no military actions had been conducted in this de-escalation zone, there had been no airstrikes,” a Russian defense ministry spokesman said in a statement carried by Reuters on Tuesday.
Syria Hails U.S. Decision to Halt Rebel Aid
The Syrian government lauded a U.S. decision to suspend covert CIA aid to Syrian rebel groups as a promising step toward ending the six-year-long conflict, Reuters reported Tuesday.
“All these steps are the start to solving the Syrian crisis, and without that there is no solution,” Ali Haidar, the national reconciliation minister in President Bashar al-Assad’s government, told Reuters in an interview.
Haidar’s remarks suggest that the Syrian government is satisfied with the Trump administration’s decision, announced last week, to end the covert CIA program, which began in 2013 as part of early U.S. efforts to overthrow the Syrian government.
The move marked a boost to Assad’s government and a significant blow to Syria’s battered rebel groups, who have suffered a string of territorial losses over the past year.
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