U.S.-led airstrikes destroy parts of Raqqa hospital amid losses among Syria's army

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-26 05:58:39|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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DAMASCUS, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- U.S.-led airstrikes on Friday destroyed parts of the general hospital of Raqqa city in northeastern Syria, a monitor group reported, as the Islamic State (IS) group launched a counter offensive against the Syrian army in eastern Raqqa, killing 34 soldiers.

The "violent" shelling by the U.S.-led coalition also led to an electricity outage in other parts of the hospital, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The airstrikes are the latest in a string of violent shelling by the coalition in its bid to back the ground forces of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in their push to defeat IS in Raqqa, the main stronghold of the terror group in Syria.

The SDF has already captured 60 percent of Raqqa city since unleashing an attack on the city two and a half months ago.

In an earlier report, the observatory said that as many as 773 civilians have been killed by U.S.-led strikes and shelling of the SDF since the operation against Raqqa began in June of this year.

The London-based watchdog group said 197 children and 119 women were among those killed during the battles in Raqqa.

The Syrian government has repeatedly urged the UN Security Council to dissolve the coalition to stop its "crimes" against civilians in Raqqa.

On Thursday, the UN urged international powers to ease military operations around Raqqa amid intensifying concerns about the safety of thousands of civilians trapped inside the city.

More than 270,000 people have already fled the city since the coalition offensive began, and between 16,000 and 25,000 people are still trapped inside the city, with activists blaming both the coalition airstrikes and IS for the severity of the humanitarian situation inside the city.

Meanwhile, the observatory said Friday that 34 soldiers with the Syrian government forces were killed in Raqqa countryside by the IS militants, who launched a counter offensive on Thursday against the areas that have recently been taken by the army and allied fighters in the eastern countryside of Raqqa.

It said the IS militants regained several areas from the army, pushing the government forces to around 30 km from the city of Ma'adan, the last IS-held city in the eastern countryside of Raqqa.

Earlier this month, the Syrian army reached the outskirts of Ma'adan, close to the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, which is the ultimate goal behind the Syrian military operations in the countryside of Raqqa and the desert region in central Syria against IS.

It's worth noting that both the SDF and the Syrian army are fighting separate battles against IS in Raqqa, as the SDF is focused on the city itself, while the army on the countryside.

A day earlier, the Syrian army said it had laid a siege on IS in the Syrian desert, following an operation that has been dragging on since May, aiming to end the IS presence in around 90,000 square km of desert area in the central region.

For the army, the operation in the desert is so important as the desert region connects key Syrian cities with the Jordanian and Iraqi borders.

It also helps the army forces break the IS siege on Deir al-Zour, an oil-rich city that has been in place since 2015.

The IS controls much of Deir al-Zour, save for small part of the city which is still under the government control. The Syrian government airdrops food and aid to the besieged people and soldiers in Deir al-Zour, as all routes into the city are blocked by IS.