On March 16, US warplanes attacked a crowded mosque in Aleppo Province, killing at least 38 people during a religious lecture. Human Rights Watch (HRW), having conducted their own investigation into the matter, says the attack was “likely unlawful.”
The biggest single incident was in Abu Kamal, along the Iraqi border, where US airstrikes killed at least 30 civilians, mostly women and children. The Pentagon downplayed the incident, saying they couldn’t confirm the civilian casualties, and that they’d “tried to avoid” killing any civilians.
The US has promised their own investigation into the matter but so far haven’t offered much of anything, jumping between conflicting claims that it was an al-Qaeda target, that it wasn’t a mosque at all, and speculating that the Syrian military might’ve coincidentally attacked the mosque during an active US airstrike, despite pieces of US munitions being found inside the mosque.
HRW attributed this to a lack of target analysis ahead of the attack, saying that officials were unaware that the site was a mosque and unaware that they attacked during the start of evening prayers, saying that even cursory analysis could’ve figured at least some of this out.
HRW went on to advise the US to “do its homework” before launching such strikes. The Pentagon, however, is always interested in being able to deny incidents, irrespective of the lack of credibility of such a denial, and claiming they didn’t know it was a mosque, because they didn’t check, might ultimately be enough for the Pentagon to keep the incident out of their official toll of civilians killed, despite killing a number of civilians in the process.
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