The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-rebel reporting group based in the UK, claims that a US air strike on an oil refinery in northern Syria killed at least 30 people.
The Observatory said that although some IS militants were among those killed, many were civilian locals who worked at the refinery. The attack is one of many directed not at the military bases of the IS but critical infrastructure. The U.S. admits that the intent is to deny IS funds that it gets from oil resources. The IS controls much of the oil-producing regions of Syria. Not only does this type of attack involve deliberately attacking targets that will involve civilian casualties, they also hurt the civilian population in areas occupied by the IS, since the funds from oil also provide not only jobs for locals but also are partly used to fund services in IS-controlled areas.After an attack on the village of Kfar Daryan last September that is said to have killed at least a dozen civilians, the Obama administration admitted that its restrictive targeting rules meant to avoid civilian deaths did not apply to air strikes in Syria or Iraq:Last December 28th, an attack on a building containing a jail may have killed 50 or even more civilians that were being held inside. Journalists Roy Gutman and Mousab Alhamadee said the building was completely destroyed and it was days before workers could retrieve all the bodies according to their report in McClatchy:Other attacks on infrastructure include one on grain silos. The policy of attacks on infrastructure date back to last September. On September 29th we have this report:A policy of targeting infrastructure fails to take into account the extremely negative effects this will have on those living in IS-controlled areas and also the inevitable civilian casualties these bombings caused.
National Security Council spokesman Caitlin Hayden confirmed that the same rules no longer apply.This attack was on a group within the Al Nusra front US intelligence calls the Khorasan. The result of this attack was for Al Nusra to turn on US funded rebels ultimately destroying the CIA's favourite moderate rebel group Harakat Hazm . The Front captured their base along with a huge cache of US provided weapons. Photos of the destruction caused by the attack can be foundhere. The appended video shows one reaction to the attack. No Arab states actually took part in the bombing of the Nusra Front only against IS targets. Before this attack, the Al Qaeda-linked Front had cooperated with other rebel groups in attacks both against Assad forces and the Islamic State. All rebel groups of every stripe condemned the strike.Hayden said the 'near certainty' standard was created for attacks 'outside areas of active hostilities' which 'simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now.'
"McClatchy located two sources who confirmed a high civilian death toll from the strike. One witness, an activist in Al Bab, gave the death toll as 61 civilian prisoners and 13 Islamic State guards. The Syrian Network for Human Rights estimated the death toll at 80, and said 25 of those were Islamic State Guards and another 55 were either civilians or imprisoned fighters from non-Islamic State rebel groups."The US acknowledged: "Coalition aircraft did strike and destroy an ISIL headquarters building in Al Bab on Dec. 28." There is no mention of civilian casualties or that the building included a jail. Later the Pentagon noted it had received nine reports of civilian deaths in Syria and that it was still investigating four but did not say if the Al Bab incident was under review.
"In eastern Syria, U.S.-led forces bombed a gas plant controlled by the Islamic State outside Deir al-Zor city, wounding several of the militant group's fighters, the Observatory said. The United States has said it wants strikes to target oil facilities held by Islamic State to try to stem a source of revenues for the group.The raid hit Kuniko gas plant, which feeds a power station in Homs that provides several provinces with electricity and powers oil fields generators, the Observatory said."