Beirut: An airstrike believed to have been carried out by the US-led coalition overnight hit a town controlled by al Qaeda militants in northwestern Syria, activists said today.
Harem, on an important smuggling route to Turkey, is controlled by al Qaeda's Syrian branch, the Nusra Front US aircraft bombed Nusra militants near Harem last week.
The strike was reported by the Local Coordination Committees and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human
Rights, both of which gather information from local activists. The Britain-based Observatory said the strike hit near an empty house and killed two Nusra Front fighters.
If confirmed, the strike would mark the fourth time that coalition aircraft have targeted the al Qaeda affiliate in the US-led aerial campaign against the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
The US military says the attacks against the Nusra Front have targeted the so-called Khorasan group, which Washington says is a special cell within Nusra that is plotting attacks against Western interests.
Inside Syria, activists and rebels dismiss the US attempt to distinguish between the two, saying they are one entity.
Many analysts also question the distinction. The US says it isn't coordinating its aerial operation in Syria with President Bashar Assad, whose own air force has been pummeling opposition-held areas from the sky since the international coalition's campaign began in late September.
The Observatory said today that Syrian aircraft have carried out nearly 1,600 airstrikes since Oct 20.
It said at least 396 people, including 109 children, have been killed in those strikes.
Today, a government strike hit the northeastern city of Raqqa, controlled by the Islamic State group, killing at least nine people, the Observatory and local activist Fourat Alwfaa said. Alwfaa said the killed were civilians.
Another strike hit the town of al-Hara in southern Syria, killing eight people, including four children and a woman, the Observatory said.
An activist group in Daraa also reported the strikes, but offered no casualty figures.