Coalition Spokesman Col. Sean Ryan declined to comment on reports about the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) entering the city of Hajin in Deir-ez-Zor, telling Sputnik only that “the Syrian Democratic Forces have advanced into more territory once held by ISIS [Daesh*] and thwarted their multiple counteroffensives.”
Ryan said intelligence reports indicate that the jihadists are trying to leave the Middle Euphrates River Valley, but Iraqi security forces are preventing them from fleeing across the border into Iraq.
The SDF has created corridors of escape for non-combatants in the area, allowing more than 1,000 to flee recently, Ryan said, adding that Daesh is using civilians as human shields.
Ryan also said the Daesh terror group has suffered heavy losses over the past week, as the SDF and coalition airstrikes have destroyed more than 50 vehicles, 36 supply routes, nine fighting positions, four command and control centres, vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices and IED facilities.
Earlier in the day the broadcaster Ikhbariya reported that at least eight civilians died due to another airstrike by the US-led coalition in the city of Hajin. According to the media, all the victims were members of one family.
The strike comes just two days after another coalition operation killed 5 civilians in Deir ez-Zor province, according to Syrian state television.
In response to the news, the coalition claimed there was no ground for such allegations.
“The Coalition is finding no basis for these claims,” Ryan said when asked to comment on the report.
The Syrian government has repeatedly reported airstrikes by the coalition that have numerous deaths of ordinary Syrians, also accusing the US and its allies of using white phosphorus, banned by the UN, during the coalition operations. The coalition, for its part, has denied the allegations, stressing that the operations are aimed solely against the Daesh terrorist organisation.
*Daesh (also known as IS/ISIL/ISIS/Islamic State) is a terrorist group banned in Russia.
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