Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition killed at least 43 people, including 17 children, in the last territory controlled by the Islamic State in eastern Syria, a monitoring group said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the airstrikes first took place around 3:30 a.m. Saturday and at least 36 of the dead were civilians, including 12 women. Another seven victims had not yet been identified as either civilians or Islamic State fighters, it said.
SANA, the news agency run by the Syrian government that has aligned itself against the U.S. coalition, reported 40 civilians, mostly women and children, died in the airstrikes and warned the death toll is likely to rise because of difficulty evacuating civilians trapped under the rubble of houses.
For 10 minutes, houses were struck in the vicinity of a mosque in Abu al-Hasan village on the east banks of Euphrates River, in the eastern countryside of Deir Ezzor, the monitoring group said.
The Syrian Observatory's Abdel Rahman said "it was the highest death toll in coalition airstrikes " since the U.S.-aligned Kurdish fighters launched their attack against this particular northeastern Syrian Islamic State pocket in September.
Bad weather conditions have allowed Islamic State fighters to gain ground against the U.S.-led alliance, Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, told Voice of America. He said they captured positions and equipment belonging to the U.S. coalition.