March 23, 2017

US Airstrike Hit North Syria Mosque, Killing Scores

21 March 2017, 01:36 | Darnell Patrick

People fleeing rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo

People fleeing rebel-held neighborhoods of Aleppo

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says most of those killed were civilians and describes the Thursday strike on the village of al-Jinah as a "massacre", as questions are emerging about whether the United States was responsible.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 320,000 people have died in six years of conflict in Syria, which began in March 2011 with protests against President Bashar Assad.

Al Jazeera news agency reported the strike occurred during "evening prayer so the mosque was full of worshipers, with local activists saying up to 300 people were inside at the time".

The debris after USA airstrikes hit a mosque during night prayer in Al-Jineh village of Atarib district in Aleppo, Syria on March 17, 2017.

The US military said it targeted al-Qaeda militants in an air strike at a meeting location in Idlib province, killing several of them.

According to CENTCOM, the strike had targeted Al-Qaeda members. "We couldn't even recognize some of the bodies", he added. "We know it was being used by al Qaida", Davis said.

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He said officials were still assessing the airstrike but that no civilians were believed to have been killed. Earlier this month, the coalition said at least 220 civilians had been unintentionally killed in its air raids since 2014, but critics maintain the real number is much higher.

According to the US military, 220 civilians killed have been killed since the start of the air campaign against Islamic State in 2014, but that estimate is far lower than those provided by monitoring groups.

The photo showed extensive damage to the building, and debris scattered toward the mosque, but little visible damage to the mosque or two cars parked next to it. In the past, it has dismissed allegations of civilian deaths in its strikes.

Obtaining accurate independent figures is hard because of the challenges of reporting in the multi-sided Syrian civil war.

Russian and Syrian aircraft are also known to operate in the area, turning the battlefield into a microcosm of the geopolitical tensions that have come to define Syria's war.

The strike was condemned by the Islamist group Ahrar al-Sham, which said targeting mosques was a war crime under worldwide law.

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