On Thursday, the U.S. military took responsibility for a lethal air-strike on an al-Qaeda target in the northern part of Syria. It, however, denied purposefully targeting a Mosque where over 40 non-combatants were killed.
Hundreds of civilians have been accidentally killed in the air campaign the U.S.-led coalition has been waging against terror groups in Syria and Iraq.
Speaking for the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), Colonel John Thomas said, “We did not target a mosque, but the building that we did target — which was where the meeting took place — is about 50 feet from a mosque that is still standing.”
A CENTCOM statement provided the following details: “US forces conducted an airstrike on an al-Qaeda meeting in Syria meeting location March 16 in Idlib, Syria, killing several terrorists.”
Col. Thomas explained that they were still unaware of the exact location of the strike, while admitting that it matched the one in which reports indicated that a mosque in Al-Jineh, Aleppo province was hit.
When asked to comment on reports by the U.K. –based monitoring group, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, about 42 mostly civilian fatalities, the spokesman said, “We are going to look into any allegations of civilian casualties in relation to this strike.”
“We take that very seriously,” he added. He also said that direct reports regarding civilian casualties have not reached CENTCOM at this time.
The air-strike “destroyed one half of a building in which the meeting was occurring,” according to Thomas.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the mosque in the village of Al-Jineh was hit by unidentified warplanes while evening prayers were being conducted.
It added that besides the 42 fatalities, over 100 people were injured in the blast and the subsequent collapse of the structure, with many more trapped under the rubble.