The Syrian Civil Defence said on Thursday that at least 13 people were killed, including six children, in shelling and clashes after a US raid earlier that morning in northwestern Syria near Atmeh on the Turkish-Syrian border.
US Special Operations forces successfully carried out a counter-terrorism mission in northwest Syria on Thursday, the Pentagon said earlier on Thursday, claiming there were no US casualties but giving no further details.
One resident said at least 12 people were killed in the attack.
Several helicopters landed in an area near the town of Atmeh in the province of Idlib, which is in an area under opposition control along the border with Turkey, and explosions were heard near the home of a foreign extremist, the residents and opposition sources said.
Anti-aircraft missiles were fired by opposition forces, in the last significant enclave held by insurgents fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, an opposition source said.
One resident said several people were killed in the operation, which witnesses said had ended as aircraft believed to be choppers had left the site. There was no confirmation that any extremists were killed in the raid.
Another resident said rescuers pulled out at least 12 bodies from the rubble of a multi-story building, including children and women.
The US State Department and the spokesperson for the coalition forces in northern Syria did not respond to requests for comment.
Charles Lister, senior fellow with the Washington-based Middle East Institute, said he had spoken to residents who said the operation lasted more than two hours.
“Clearly they wanted whoever it was alive,” Lister said.
“This looks like the biggest of this type of operation” since the Baghdadi raid, he said.
ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi died in a US special operations raid in northwest Syria in 2019.
The northwest of Syria - Idlib province and a belt of territory around it - is mostly held by Hyat Tahrir al-Sham, the former Nusra Front, which was part of al-Qaeda until 2016.
Several foreign extremist figures who split from the group have set up the Huras al-Din (Guardians of Religion) group, designated as a foreign terrorist organization, which has in recent years been the target of coalition strikes.
For years, the US military has launched mostly drones to kill top al-Qaeda operatives in northern Syria, where the militant group became active during Syria’s over decade-long civil war.
US-led coalition operations against remnants of ISIS sleeper cells are more frequent in northeast Syria held by Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces.
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