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Defense Secretary orders re-examination of deadly 2019 airstrike in Syria |  KTAB


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin with Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, left, speaks during a meeting with Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, at the Pentagon, Thursday, November 18 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo / Manuel Balce Ceneta)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered a re-examination of a US airstrike in Syria in March 2019 that left dozens dead, including women and children, to assess the extent civilian casualties and whether the strike violated the laws of war.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said on Monday that Austin had selected the commander of the United States Armed Forces Command, General Michael X. Garrett, to lead the review. Garrett will have 90 days to complete his investigation, which Kirby said would include a determination of whether “liability action” should be taken against those involved in the attack.

The attack, first reported in detail earlier this month by The New York Times, occurred near the town of Baghuz in eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border. The Times reported that a military lawyer quickly flagged the strike as a possible war crime that needed investigation, but on several occasions the military took steps to cover up the strike and downplayed the death toll. .

After the Times article was published, Austin requested and received a briefing on the matter from General Frank McKenzie, the command of US Central Command. McKenzie’s command said an initial investigation concluded the strike constituted self-defense in support of partner Syrian forces under fire from ISIS.


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