US-backed SDF forces carry out deadly operation in eastern Syria

US-backed Kurdish forces say operation in Deir Az Zor targeted ISIL fighters but SANA news agency says civilians killed in raid.

Aleppo airstrikes
The SANA state news agency said that US troops had fired "indiscriminately" on houses, killing three civilians [File: AFP]

Kurdish special forces backed by the US military killed five suspected fighters in an airborne operation in eastern Syria’s Deir Az Zor province, according to the Kurdish forces.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters, which controls the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of northeastern Syria, said in a statement on Monday that the raid took place near the village of al-Busaira.

With backing from the US-led coalition, the raid targeted a hideout used by “a dangerous cell of the terrorist” ISIL (ISIS) armed group, the SDF said in a statement. The ISIL group, which had captured vast swaths of Syria and Iraq in 2014, was ended as a territorial unit in 2019 with the help of an international military coalition.

The SDF said gun battles ensued that led to the killing of five ISIL members, most of whom were wearing explosive belts.

“Today SDF conducted an operation in Deir Ezzor Governorate removing four Daesh fighters from the battlefield & performing a controlled destruction of explosives. This operation furthers the continued efforts to provide safety and security to the region,” the US-led coalition said on Twitter, referring to ISIL by its Arabic acronym Daesh.

‘Kidnapped a number of civilians’

The Syrian News Agency (SANA) earlier said American forces “kidnapped a number of civilians” in a “large airborne operation” near Deir Az Zor at dawn on Monday.

The state agency said that US troops had fired “indiscriminately” on houses, killing three civilians who were all members of one family.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a war monitor based in the UK which has a wide network of sources across Syria, said at least four people were killed.

The dead were members of the same family, including two who were shot by helicopter fire as they tried to flee on a motorbike, said Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman.

Al-Busaira is a village that lies on the banks of the Euphrates, between the two main cities of Deir Az Zor and Mayadeen, in the middle of ISIL’s original heartland.

ISIL has continued to carry out attacks, launching frequent hit-and-run raids from desert hideouts on either side of the border with Iraq.

Source: News Agencies