At least 23 civilians, including eight children, have been killed in air raids on an ISIL-held village in northern Syria, according to a monitor.
The fighter jets that carried out the strikes were believed to belong to the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS) armed group, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Thursday.
“The raids hit the village of al-Matab after midnight and were likely carried out by the coalition,” according to Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Observatory.
At least six women were also among the dead in al-Matab, which lies near a key road linking Raqqa – ISIL’s de facto capital – to Deir Az Zor city, the capital of the adjacent oil-rich province.
On Monday, fighters from the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) cut off that route in an effort to encircle the the ISIL fighters in Raqqa.
The US-led coalition has been backing the SDF’s drive for Raqqa with air power and hundreds of special operations forces as advisers.
The SDF, an alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, launched its offensive for Raqqa in early November, and has since seized swaths of territory in northern Syria.
But its advance has angered Turkey, which sees the umbrella group’s dominant YPG militia (People’s Protection Units) – as an extension of Kurdish PKK fighters. The PKK has waged a three-decade conflict in southeastern Turkey.
The profusion of forces operating in Syria – particularly in its fractured north – has led to a deeply complex battlefield and tensions between different parties.
The US-led coalition fighting ISIL in Syria and Iraq said earlier this month that its raids had unintentionally killed at least 220 civilians since 2014 in both countries.
Critics say the real number is much higher.
Elsewhere in Syria, fighter jets pounded the rebel-held city of Kfranbel in Idlib province, killing at least four people, according to activists at the scene.
Media activist Hadi al-Abdullah said four air strikes on civilian areas in Kfranbel left heavy damage and killed at least two children.
He said dozens of others were wounded in the early-morning raids.