On Thursday 16 March, an airstrike on a mosque in Syria’s Aleppo province reportedly killed at least 42 civilians. But contrary to early reports, it was not a Russian or Syrian government attack. It was carried out by the US-led coalition.
US military chiefs claim the attack was targeting al-Qaeda rebels in nearby Idlib province. But at around 7pm-7.30pm local time, bombs fell about 50ft from the mosque in al-Jina, which was packed with 300 people observing evening prayers.
Major Josh Jacques told Airwars that its target in al-Jina was ‘assessed to be a meeting place for al-Qaeda, and we took the strike – it happened to be across the street from where there is a mosque’.
US Central Command, meanwhile, told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that “US forces conducted an air strike” on al-Qaeda, “killing several terrorists”. And it said it would “look into any allegations of civilian casualties”.
It also said that the geolocation of the strike had been confirmed to the al-Jina area.
— Christiaan Triebert (@trbrtc) March 17, 2017
Abu Muhammed, a village resident, told AFP that he:
heard powerful explosions when the mosque was hit. It was right after prayers at a time when there are usually religious lessons for men in it. I saw 15 bodies and lots of body parts in the debris when I arrived. We couldn’t even recognise some of the bodies…
In January, the US was forced to admit the US-led coalition had killed at least 188 civilians so far in its Syrian and Iraqi bombing campaigns. And with this latest atrocity, the question of the West’s strategy in the Middle East has been brought sharply back into focus.
Featured image via Twitter screengrab