More than 20 fighters from an Iraqi paramilitary force key to the battle against the Islamic State group were killed today in an eastern Syria air raid the United States linked to Israel. The bombing raid hit Al-Hari, a town controlled by regional militias fighting in Syria’s complex seven-year war alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Both Syrian authorities and Iraqi forces pointed the finger at the US-led coalition, which denied it was involved in Sunday night’s attack.
“We have reasons to believe that it was an Israeli strike,” a US official told AFP on condition of anonymity. The raid slammed into a regime-controlled position in the border town and left at least 52 fighters dead, according to a Britain-based monitor. Among them were fighters from Iraq’s powerful Hashed al-Shaabi military alliance, some of whom have crossed into Syria to fight against IS.
The Iran-backed Hashed claimed that “US planes fired two guided missiles at a fixed position of Hashed al-Shaabi units on the border with Syria, killing 22 fighters and wounding 12.” The bodies of three Iraqi fighters killed in the raid were returned to their hometowns for burial, said AFP’s correspondent in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a total of 30 Iraqi forces were among the dead in Al-Hari, as well as 16 Syrian forces and six unidentified fighters. (