Cluster bombs kill at least 15 in eastern Syria

(KRQE/File Photo) BKG police lights generic

BEIRUT (AP) — A cluster bomb attack on an Islamic State-held village in eastern Syria killed at least 15 people on Wednesday, activists said, the latest in a series of devastating airstrikes along the Euphrates River Valley

Two Syrian monitoring groups, Deir Ezzor 24 and Justice For Life, said the weapons were dropped on the village of Doblan by an unidentified jet. Russian, Syrian, and U.S.-led coalition aircraft are all known to operate in the area.

Cluster bombs are designed to spread small bomblets across a wide area, but many fail to explode, endangering civilians long after the fighting has ended.

Omar Abou Layla, the head of Deir Ezzor 24, said 15 bodies, including of women and children, were recovered in the village. He said residents expect to find many more killed.

Ali Rahbe, of Justice For Life, said local informants counted at least 35 dead in the village, which is between the IS strongholds of al-Mayadeen and Boukamal.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights put the initial toll at 30 dead.

At least 57 people were killed in an airstrike on an IS-run jail in the Euphrates River Valley on Monday. Activists said that airstrike was carried out by the U.S.-led coalition. The coalition said it was looking into the reports.

Turkey’s military meanwhile said it returned fire after an attack by Syrian Kurdish forces.

A statement Wednesday said the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, fired on Turkish territory overnight with anti-aircraft weapons from Syria’s Afrin region. Turkish artillery units returned fire, destroying the “detected targets.”

The YPG is the main component of the Syrian Democratic Forces, a U.S.-backed militia that is battling the Islamic State group in the extremists’ de facto capital, Raqqa. Turkey views the YPG as an extension of the Kurdish insurgency raging in its southeast.

Turkey was angered by a U.S. decision last month to arm the Syrian Kurds, fearing the weapons will end up in the hands of Kurdish rebels in Turkey.