The head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says that U.S.-led coalition airstrikes killed more than 40 people in the village of Abu Husn in the region of Deir el-Zor, near the Iraqi border.
Arab media announced the deaths of several dozen people, most of whom appeared to have been Islamic State group fighters, during bitter fighting in the Deir el-Zor region of eastern Syria, not far from the Iraqi border.
Rami Abdel Rahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claims that about three dozen Islamic State fighters were killed in the airstrikes on the village of Abu Husn. A number of civilians and family members of the IS fighters also were killed.
Abdel Rahman insisted that "it was the highest death toll in coalition airstrikes since (U.S.-aligned Kurdish fighters) launched their attack against this (particular northeastern Syrian) Islamic State pocket in September.
U.S. Coalition spokesman Sean Ryan told the French news agency earlier this week "the avoidance of civilian casualties is our highest priority when conducting strikes against legitimate military targets with precision munitions."
Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, tells VOA that bad weather conditions in recent days have allowed IS fighters to gain ground against the U.S.-led alliance of Kurdish SDF fighters, alongside U.S. and French forces, prompting strong efforts to push them back.
He says that the final pockets of Islamic State fighters have taken advantage of poor weather conditions (and cloud cover) to capture positions and equipment belonging to the U.S. coalition, prompting fierce fighting in an effort to recapture lost ground.
Abou Diab says the Islamic State pocket in the region of Deir el-Zour is one of several he says are supported by different countries involved in the Syria conflict. He argues that a separate Islamic State faction, supported by the Syrian government, has been involved in attacking Druze civilians and holding them hostage in the southern region of Sweida.