US Probe Finds No Wrongdoing in 2019 Deadly Syria Strike, Clears Officer Who Ordered It
Story Code : 994874
The US military claims it staged the airstrike against members of the Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” l “ISIL”] terrorist group in the town of Baghouz in Syria’s Deir ez-Zor Province.
The investigation, whose results came out on Tuesday, was launched last year after The New York Times reported that the military had covered up the civilian deaths.
The report said back then that a US legal officer "flagged the strike as a possible war crime" and that "at nearly every step, the military made moves that concealed the catastrophic strike." The Times report said many of the fatalities were women and children.
The probe, however, alleged that the American ground force commander for the US-led coalition – which invaded the Arab country under the guise of fighting Daesh – had received a request for the strike from US-backed Kurdish militants. The commander "received confirmation that no civilians were in the strike area" and authorized the strike, the investigation claimed.
"No Rules of Engagement or Law of War violations occurred," the investigation said. In addition, the commander "did not deliberately or with wanton disregard cause civilian casualties," it claimed.
Relatedly, the Pentagon cleared the commander of wrongdoing, according to a military review of the incident.
US War Secretary Lloyd Austin ordered Army Gen. Michael Garrett to investigate the controversial incident amid concern over a lack of accountability for deadly airstrikes.
“I'm not going to re-litigate every single incident of civilian casualties. But it's war, it's combat. And ground force commanders or commanders in general aren't always going to have perfect visibility," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.
The US and its allies invaded Syria in 2014 under the pretext of fighting the terrorists. The terror outfit had emerged as Washington was running out of excuses to extend its regional meddling or enlarge it in scale.
The US military interference was, however, surprisingly slow in confronting the terrorists, despite the sheer size of the coalition that had enlisted scores of Washington-allied countries.
Numerous reports and regional officials would, meanwhile, point to the US’ role in transferring Daesh elements throughout the region and even airlifting supplies to the group.
In 2017 and at the height of the coalition's military campaign in Syria, Russia drew a parallel between the destruction that was being caused by the US-led forces and the wholesale bombing campaign against the German city of Dresden during the World War II.