World Bulletin/News Desk
Air strikes by U.S.-led forces in Syria have killed 865 people, including 50 civilians, since the start of the campaign in late September against ISIL militants, a group monitoring the war said on Wednesday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the majority of the deaths, 746, were ISIL fighters and that the actual figure could be much higher. ISIL has seized tracts of territory in Syria and neighbouring Iraq, where it has also been targeted by U.S.-led forces since July.
Eight of the civilians killed were children, the Observatory said. It said 68 members of Nusra Front were also killed in the air strikes, which started early on Sept. 23.
Coalition strikes have hit the Syrian provinces of Aleppo, Deir al-Zor, Hasaka, Raqqa and Idlib, the Observatory said.
The United States has said it takes reports of civilian casualties seriously and says it has a process to investigate each allegation.
Washington justified its action in Syria under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, which covers an individual or collective right to self-defence against armed attack.
Around 200,000 people have been killed in Syria's conflict, which is now in its fourth year, according to the United Nations.
Truce in Damascus
Meanwhile, cars carrying food and aid supplies entered a southern Damascus neighbourhood on Wednesday thanks to a local ceasefire agreement between pro-government officials and insurgents on Wednesday.
Such truces have been described by the U.N. Syria mediator as one of the best ways to end the conflict on an area-by-area basis. On Tuesday the envoy, Staffan de Mistura, said Syrian officials had given him positive signals on a U.N. proposal for a local truce in the northern city of Aleppo.
The ceasefire in the southern Damascus neighbourhood of Qadam was agreed back in August after months of negotiations, opening the way for Wednesday's aid access, said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The agreement was struck between rebels in the area, the governor of Damascus, the leader of the main pro-government paramilitary group, and various other local chiefs.
The Observatory, which says it gathers information from all sides of the conflict, said dozens of residents had been able to re-enter the neighbourhood at the end of last month.
The truce called for the complete withdrawal of the army from the district, with army checkpoints at its entrances only.
It also called for the release of prisoners held by the government and gave the rebel Western-backed Free Syrian Army responsibility for running the area, allowing them to keep their weapons.Last Mod: 12 Kasım 2014, 12:07