US military investigates civilian deaths in Syria strike

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption ABC News also confirmed that one of the people was killed in the strike in Raqqa The US military is investigating after it acknowledged that up to 30…

US military investigates civilian deaths in Syria strike

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption ABC News also confirmed that one of the people was killed in the strike in Raqqa

The US military is investigating after it acknowledged that up to 30 civilians may have been killed in a military strike in Syria.

The commandos from Task Force 150 in Afghanistan destroyed a building in the city of Raqqa to disrupt a meeting between al Qaeda and another militant group.

NBC News says one of the civilians is believed to be Sami al-Jaberi, also known as Abu Jimawy.

There have been no independent reports of civilian casualties.

“Initial results indicate that no coalition forces were killed or injured in the location assessed to be a civilian facility,” the US Central Command said in a statement.

However, it added that “preliminary assessment” from a number of sources indicated that some individuals were “potentially” civilians.

“The IHRC, however, is currently reviewing information to determine the veracity of that assessment,” the statement said, referring to the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission.

‘A regretful outcome’

Image copyright EPA Image caption Al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri is believed to have been in the building in Raqqa

The US military strike targeted a training camp where al Qaeda was said to be preparing personnel to “carry out an attack in a designated foreign country”, and which the commandos believed to be under the direction of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

Earlier, the military said two of its soldiers had been wounded in the strike.

The attack occurred around 29 March, it said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based monitoring group, has reported that the building destroyed had housed a school for refugees.

It added that the strike, carried out by AHTS, was “immoral and carried out in a coalition territory”.

Guatemalan media quoted a security official as saying that three people from his country were among the dead, including an 11-year-old girl, Ghaida Ganjar.

ABC News also confirmed that one of the people killed in the strike in Raqqa was Mr al-Jaberi, the BBC reported.

Al Qaeda ruled the city until late 2017, when a US-backed force expelled the militants from the city.

Abu Jimawy’s death in the US military strike will allow Ahrar al-Sham, the main militant group in northern Syria, to consolidate its hold in the group, the BBC reported.

U.S. president Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of the US troops last month, tweeting: “The fact is, Syria is now totally SAFE for the first time in many years, after decades of Iranian occupation & slaughter.”

He later admitted that the pullout would not be complete and said that the estimated 2,000 remaining troops could remain for “a period of time”.

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