Pentagon to review deadly 2019 US bombings in Syria

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The US will investigate whether procedures were followed after the NY Times reported dozens of civilians were killed in bombings.

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United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered a review of US military bombings in Syria in March 2019 The New York Times recently reported dozens of civilians killed during fighting for the last bastion of ISIL (ISIS). was given.

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Announcing the investigation Monday, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said it would be headed by General Michael Garrett, the chief of US Army Forces Command.

Earlier this month, the US military acknowledged that civilians may have been killed in 2019 bombings in Baghouz near the Iraqi border. At the time, the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) were leading the battle on the ground with the US. air support.

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“Probably most of those killed were also fighters at the time of the strike. However, it is also highly likely that there were additional civilian casualties,” US military spokesman Bill Urban said in a statement on November 14.

He added that “the investigation was unable to conclusively characterize the position of more than 60 other casualties as a result of these attacks”.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin orders review of 2019 US military bombings, Pentagon spokesman announced [File: Patrick Semansky/AP Photo]

Urban’s statement comes a day after the New York Times cited anonymous sources and confidential documents. published a report In which the US military was accused of hiding the bombings.

The newspaper reported that there was a “mob of women and children” in the bombing, in which 64 people were killed.

“Without warning, a US F-15E attack jet stormed the drone’s high-definition field of vision and dropped a 500-pound bomb on the crowd, swallowing it in a shivering explosion. As the smoke cleared, some people fled in search of cover. Then a jet tracking them dropped a 2,000-pound bomb, then another, killing most of the survivors,” the Times wrote.

On Monday, Kirby said the review would look into “record keeping and reporting procedures” and “whether the mitigation measures identified in the previous investigation into the incident were actually effectively implemented”.

The investigation, which is due in 90 days, will also assess whether “accountability measures” would be appropriate, Kirby said.

The US-led coalition launched a bombing campaign against the ISIL (ISIS) group in Syria and Iraq in 2014, and US forces maintain troops in both countries with the stated goal of preventing a resurgence of the group.

Former US President Donald Trump has described the regional defeat of ISIL as a major policy achievement in his unsuccessful 2020 re-election bid.

Rights groups have previously accused the US-led coalition of killing civilians during their bombing campaign. a 2019 Probe For example, Amnesty International found that the coalition had killed 1,600 civilians in Raqqa, the former de facto capital of the ISIL group.

After the New York Times story was published, Austin received a briefing on the Syria bombings from the head of US Central Command, General Frank McKenzie, the Associated Press news agency reported on Monday.

The AP reported that McKenzie’s order said “preliminary investigations have concluded that the attack constituted legitimate self-defense in support of Syrian partner forces under fire from ISIL”.

The investigation into the Syria bombings comes after the Pentagon acknowledged in September that a US drone strike was previously described as “righteous” by a top general, including children in Kabul during the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan. 10 civilians were killed.

But a subsequent internal review by the Pentagon concluded that the bombing did not violate the laws of war or amount to criminal conduct or negligence, prompting outrage.

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