Three children killed in unauthorized US strikes on Syria: group


Unauthorized airstrikes by US-led coalition forces in Syria killed around 30 fighters from al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front and eight civilians including children, a Britain-based group monitoring the war from the said on Tuesday.

Three children were among the eight civilians killed when strikes targeted a residential building in Aleppo province used by Nusra, the pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The US military said in a statement it had “destroyed or damaged multiple (Islamic State) targets” around the cities of Raqqa, Deir Ezzor, Hasakah and the border town of Albu Kamal.”

The targets included “(Islamic State) fighters, training compounds, headquarters and command and control facilities, storage facilities, a finance center, supply trucks and armed vehicles,” it said.

The US military said it launched 47 Tomahawk missiles from warships in the Red Sea and North Arabian Gulf, and used remotely piloted and bomber aircraft.

Syria has long warned the United States that any strikes on its territory without Damascus’s permission would constitute a violation of its sovereignty and be regarded as an act of aggression.

Damascus said the United States had informed it hours before the strikes that Islamic State targets would be hit in Raqqa, 400 kilometers (250 miles) northeast of Damascus, but Washington denied that any message was relayed.

“The foreign minister received a letter from his American counterpart via the Iraqi foreign minister, in which he informed him that the United States and some of its allies would target (Islamic State) in Syria,” the Syrian foreign ministry said. “That was hours before the raids started.”

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement that the United States did not give the Syrian government any advance warning of the strikes.

“We did not provide advance notification to the Syrians at a military level, or give any indication of our timing on specific targets. Secretary Kerry did not send a letter to the Syrian regime,” the statement read.

But she added that Washington had told Syria’s envoy to the UN that the jidhadists would be targeted in Syria.

“We informed the Syrian regime directly of our intent to take action through our ambassador to the United Nations (Ambassador Samantha Power) to the Syrian Permanent Representative to the United Nations,” Psaki said.

“We warned Syria not to engage US aircraft.”

A Syrian ministry statement read on state television said Syria would continue to attack Islamic State in Raqqa and Deir Ezzor — areas of eastern and northern Syria — and coordination with Iraq was continuing “at the highest level.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry criticized the United States for leading attacks on Syria without seeking Damascus’s permission.

“Any such action can be carried out only in accordance with international law. That implies not a formal, one-sided ‘notification’ of airstrikes but the presence of explicit consent from the government of Syria or the approval of a corresponding UN Security Council decision,” it said in a statement.

“Attempts to achieve one’s own geopolitical goals in violation of the sovereignty of countries in the region only exacerbates tensions and further destabilizes the situation.”