Syria’s permanent mission to the UN said on Friday that the United States must immediately withdraw its troops from the country and pay reparations for the deaths of dozens of civilians in a 2019 airstrike in the city of Baghuz.
Damascus flatly rejected a Pentagon report claiming it was not responsible for the attack, saying its findings represent “an admission of negligence that calls for accountability.”
The Pentagon had released a report on Tuesday claiming that the March 18, 2019 airstrike targeting an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) encampment in Baghuz in Syria, initially believed to have killed some 70 people, had not not violate the rules of engagement or the laws of war.
Washington’s assessment ultimately claimed that of the 56 people it determined to have died in the 500-pound bomb explosion, only four were civilians. The report also claimed that if “civilians were within the radius of the blast“having caused civilian casualties, the decision to drop the massive bomb had”demonstrated awareness for non-combatants.” However, to determine who was considered a terrorist, he used an Obama-era standard that classifies all men killed of military age as combatants by default.
The Syrian mission to the UN called the Pentagon’s findings “manifest attempt to absolve US occupation forces in Syria from direct responsibility for civilian casualties under the guise of fighting the terrorist organization “ISIS”and dismissed any claims that “efforts have been made to distinguish between civilians and members of “ISIS”” as “empty justificationsfor the killing of civilians.
“These biased investigations cannot deny the fact that a crime against humanity was committed in Baghuzthe mission told Newsweek on Friday. “All the justifications provided by the American administration for not violating the laws of war or the rules of engagement aim to circumvent the fact that the American forces deployed in Syria are illegal and that they are launching military strikes, under the pretext of fight against terrorism, without the approval or coordination of the government of the Syrian Arab Republic.”
Although the report purports to clear the US military of any wrongdoing, the full text remains classified, with only a two-page summary made public. The blast site itself was quickly bulldozed, and initial internal reports were “delayed, sanitized and classified“, according to the New York Times.
The report’s findings contrasted sharply with remarks by US personnel on the ground at the time, with one military analyst stating that “we just fell [the 500-pound bomb] out of 50 women and childrenand others wondering if they had just witnessed a war crime.
While US Central Command previously admitted 80 people were killed in the strike and only 16 were suspected ISIS terrorists, the military has defended its actions by suggesting another 60 could also have been terrorists. , because “Islamic State women and children have sometimes taken up arms.”
The recent Pentagon report contradicts even these watered-down conclusions, admitting only that “administrative shortcomings contributed to giving the impression that [Department of Defense] didn’t deal with that [civilian casualty] serious incident, was not transparent and did not follow its own protocolsregarding incidents involving civilian casualties.
No ‘misconduct or negligence’ in US drone attack on Afghan aid worker that killed 7 children, Pentagon investigation finds
International civil society groups have gutted the Pentagon’s civilian casualty reporting protocols for their toothlessness, most recently following an incident in Afghanistan in which an Afghan NGO employee and nine family members – including seven children – were killed in an airstrike believed to target an Islamic State terrorist. This investigation, too, found no “misconduct or negligencefrom the killers.