U.S. Airstrike Kills Over a Dozen Iraqi Refugees:
DAMASCUS (Dispatches) -- More than a dozen Iraqi refugees have lost their lives in a U.S. aerial assault in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah, state-run SANA news agency reported Monday.
Local sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, told SANA that the U.S. aerial attack targeted a school in Khuweibra village, leaving 18 people dead.
The sources added that the fallen victims had escaped violence and Daesh acts of terror in neighboring Iraq. There were women and children among the deceased.
The U.S. has been conducting airstrikes against what are said to be Daesh targets inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate.
The military alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of achieving its declared goal of destroying Daesh.
On Sunday, the political arm of a U.S.-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab militants said it is ready for unconditional peace talks with the central government in Damascus.
The so-called Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), which is linked to the SDF umbrella militant group, announced on Sunday that it will not "hesitate to agree to unconditional talks" with the government.
The militants are allied with U.S. and French troops deployed to Syria and control much of the country's north and east, amid reports that foreign governments plan to carve out a statelet in the area.
President Bashar al-Assad has called U.S.-backed militants "traitors" to the Syrian nation but in an interview last month, he left the door open for negotiations as he announced "two options" in dealing with the SDF issue.
"The first one: we started now opening doors for negotiations, because the majority of them are Syrians, supposedly they like their country, they don't like to be puppets to any foreigners. If not, we’re going to resort... to liberating those areas by force,” he said.
"It is positive to see comments about a summit for Syrians, to pave the way to start a new page," the SDC said in a statement on Sunday.
Agence France-Presse quoted leading SDC member Hekmat Habib as saying that both the council and the SDF "are serious about opening the door to dialogue" with the government.
"With the SDF's control of 30% of Syria, and the government's control of swathes of the country, these are the only two forces who can sit at the negotiating table and formulate a solution to the Syrian crisis," he said.
Last week, more than 70 tribes in Syria reiterated support for Assad and announced the creation of a "resistance” front against the American, French, and Turkish presence on Syrian soil.
Several days later, a delegation from Syria's tolerated domestic opposition made a rare visit to Qamishli, most of which is held by Kurdish forces linked to the SDF.
A Syrian Kurdish official told AFP at the time that the delegation was trying to play a mediating role between local autonomous authorities and the government.
Foreign Minister Walid al-Muallem subsequently said the government was informally talking to the Kurds, but that negotiations were yet to start.
Habib said that he expected all non-Syrian forces to leave including the Americans.
"We are looking forward, in the next phase, to the departure of all military forces from Syria and the return to Syrian-Syrian dialogue," AFP quoted him as saying on Sunday.