Civilians Killed in US Special Forces Raid in Idlib, Syria

USS Carl Vinson by U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet (CC BY 2.0)

Several civilians have been killed during a raid conducted by US Special Forces against Jihadist targets in the town of Atme, in Syria’s Idlib province.

Chief of The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, confirmed “13 people at least were killed, among them four children and three women, during the operation”.

Local sources and residents have stated the raid, which occurred around midnight and the early hours of Thursday morning, saw US forces enter via a helicopter landing and lasted around 2 hours, though the targets of the raid have still not become clear.

During the battle, targeted buildings were subjected to heavy gunfire and left with charred ceilings, with residents also reporting explosions.

Press Secretary for the United States Department of Defence, John Kirby, stated that “US Central Command conducted a counterterrorism mission this evening in northwest Syria”, adding that “”the mission was successful. There were no US casualties”.

The raid is thought to be the biggest operation of its kind by US forces against jihadist targets in NW Syria, since the 2019 raid that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Syria’s Idlib province is currently held by Islamist and Jihadist forces fighting against the government of Bashar al-Assad, and populated by the families of fighters who have been forced to retreat to the region.

The dominant group in the province is currently Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham, formerly al-Nusra Front, which until 2016 was part of Al-Qaeda.

In another split in 2018, foreign mercenaries formed the group Huras al-Din (Guardians of Religion), who have in recent years been the target of US strikes and attacks.

Different factions have also expressed different standpoints on Syrian affairs, and there has been considerable infighting and conflict between different groups.

The latest raid by US forces stands in contrast to the more commonly used method of drone strikes to target Jihadist groups in Syria, though with both methods as witnessed, inflicting civilian death and suffering.

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