The US military has finally admitted killing civilians in airstrikes carried out more than two years ago in Syria in the town of Baghuz in eastern Syria after targeting an Islamic State (IS) stronghold,
The US military official in a statement defended the airstrike that killed 16 IS militants along with four civilians including women and children.
Navy Capt. Bill Urban, a US military spokesman said the attacks on Baghouz, along Syria’s border with Iraq, were carried out after Syrian forces allied with the United States requested air support while nearby US troops claimed there were no civilians present.
However, the New York Times reported that the US military covered up another airstrike in Syria that killed up to 64 women and children, a possible war crime, during the battle against IS.
According to the Times, military officials were trying to conceal the strike, and that multiple investigative reports scrutinizing what had happened were delayed, sanitized, and classified.
Capt. Bill Urban, the chief spokesman for the command claimed that US jets reportedly dropped three bombs on a large group of people, despite drone footage showing the presence of civilians
The US military however was unable to conclusively characterize the status of more than 60 other casualties, Urban added.
“Likely a majority of those killed were also combatants at the time of the strike, however, it is also highly likely that there were additional civilian casualties,” Urban said.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that the US works hard to avoid civilian harm. “No military in the world works as hard as we do to avoid civilian casualties,” Kirby said in a press briefing.
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