BEIRUT - Air strikes on one of the last villages still held by the Islamic State group in eastern Syria killed 12 civilians, including four children, a monitor said Monday.

 Syrian President Bashar al-Assad replaced his defence minister for the first time since 2012 as part of a government reshuffle announced by the state news agency SANA on Monday. “President Assad issued a decree, the first of 2018, naming General Ali Abdullah Ayoub minister of defence,” the agency said, without providing any explanation for the surprise announcement. The 65-year-old was until now the chief of general staff of the armed forces and replaces Fahd Jassem al-Freij.

Late Sunday, the strikes were carried out on the village of Susa in Deir Ezzor province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. “Twelve civilians from a same family, including four children, were killed,” Observatory head Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

The Britain-based monitoring organisation, which has a broad network of sources on the ground, said the strikes were likely conducted by the US-led coalition that launched air raids against IS in Syria and Iraq in 2014. There was no immediate comment from the coalition.

The Islamic State group has lost nearly all the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria and is clinging to a scattering of small villages and pockets of land in the border area. The coalition admitted on Thursday to “unintentionally” killing at least 817 civilians since it started its aerial campaign against IS.