Air raids on last IS pocket in south Syria kill 26 civilians: monitor

Air raids on last IS pocket in south Syria kill 26 civilians: monitor
Eleven children were among those killed in day-long strikes by regime and allied Russian aircraft on the last IS-held pocket in Daraa on Friday.
2 min read
21 July, 2018
Eleven children were among the dead [AFP]

Twenty-six civilians were killed in airstrikes on areas controlled by the Islamic State jihadist group in southern Syria's Daraa province, a war monitor said on Friday.

Eleven children were among those killed in day-long strikes by regime and allied Russian aircraft on the last IS-held pocket in Daraa, according to Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Hundreds of air raids and barrel bombs struck several towns controlled by a local IS branch known as Jaish Khaled bin Walid, the Observatory said.

The bombing caused severe damage to infrastructure, and "whole neighbourhoods were destroyed", the monitor said. 

The Syrian regime and its allies are currently looking to retake full control of Daraa on the border with Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights after forcing rebel groups to sue for peace following a bloody offensive.

The airstrikes came as buses gathered in a southwestern sliver of Syria near the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights to transfer rebel fighters and civilians to opposition territory further north on Friday.

The transfers come under a surrender deal agreed on Thursday between Russia and Syrian rebels in Quneitra province that will see the sensitive zone fall back under regime control. 

Rebels will hand over territory they control in Quneitra and the neighbouring buffer zone with the Israeli-occupied Golan, a war monitor and a rebel source told AFP

The deal included safe passage to northern Syria for those who refuse to live under regime control, and buses began entering the area Friday to carry out the transfers, according to the monitor.

Quneitra is a thin, crescent-shaped province wedged between the buffer to the west and the Syrian province of Daraa to its east. 

Fighting forced several hundred thousand people to flee, and as many as 140,000 remain displaced in Quneitra, according to the United Nations. 

The UN's humanitarian coordination office (OCHA) warned they are inaccessible to aid organisations based around an hour away in Damascus because of a lack of approvals.

Both Israel and Jordan, which shares a border with Syria, have kept their borders closed to the displaced. 

Israel seized 1,200 square kilometres (460 square miles) of the Golan from Syria in 1967 and later annexed it, in a move never recognised internationally. 

Syria's conflict has killed more than 350,000 people since it began in 2011 with a brutal government crackdown on protesters.

 
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