Several civilians, including children, have been killed in a raid by US special operations forces in northwest Syria, according to residents and rebels fighters.
Report says, on Thursday at least 12 people, including seven children and three women, were killed in the overnight operation near the Turkey border in the province of Idlib, the last rebel enclave resisting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
The raid hit a densely populated area where tens of thousands of people displaced from Syria’s war live in makeshift camps or overcrowded housing.
Several residents, speaking to The Associated Press news agency on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, also reported civilian deaths and said they saw body parts scattered around a house in the village of Atmeh.
In a statement, the Pentagon said the “mission was successful” but provided no details on who was the target of the raid, or if there were any casualties.
“U.S. Special Operations forces under the control of U.S. Central Command conducted a counter-terrorism mission this evening in northwest Syria,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said, “There were no U.S. casualties. More information will be provided as it becomes available.”
According to the report, the raid was believed to have targeted a suspected al Qaeda-affiliated fighter, but there was no other information on the person’s identity and no immediate reports of any fighters being killed. Residents said they heard heavy gunfire during the operation, indicating resistance to the raid.
Charles Lister, senior fellow with the Washington-based Middle East Institute, told Reuters he had spoken to residents who said the operation lasted more than two hours.
“Clearly they wanted whoever it was alive,” Lister said.
“This looks like the biggest of this type of operation” since the al-Baghdadi raid, he said, referring to a 2019 US special operations raid in northwest Syria that killed ISIL (ISIS) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.