US-led strikes kill 40 in militant pocket in Syria

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Smoke and dust rise over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the southeastern town of Suruc in Sanliurfa province October 23, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

AMMAN (Reuters) – At least 40 people, mostly women and children were killed on Saturday in the latest wave of US-led coalition airstrikes against the last remaining Islamic State-held pocket in Syria near the border with Iraq.

Asked about reports of air strikes in the Buqan area near Hajin on the eastern banks of the Euphrates River on Saturday, the coalition’s spokesman, Colonel Sean Ryan, confirmed that there were strikes but denied there were civilian casualties.

Islamic State’s Amaq news agency quoted a medical source as saying 40 people had been killed, a claim which was also made by Syrian state media.

The Syrian government protested just over a week ago to the United Nations about an air strike by the US-led coalition against Islamic State which it said killed 26 civilians in Hajin.

The fighting is the latest phase of efforts by the US-led coalition and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to clear Islamic State from its last foothold east of the Euphrates River following last year’s defeat of the group in Raqqa, its Syrian headquarters.

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