Pentagon assessing reports of civilian deaths after airstrike in Syria

Pentagon assessing reports of civilian deaths after airstrike in Syria
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The Pentagon said Monday it is looking into whether an airstrike targeting al Qaeda leaders last week in northern Syria killed civilians.

Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis told reporters Monday U.S. Central Command (Centcom) is assessing reports of civilian deaths after a March 16 strike. 

Observer groups reported that at least 49 people were killed in the airstrike, which targeted a building near a mosque in the village of Al-Jineh in the northern province of Aleppo. 

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The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the destroyed building belonged to the mosque and was part of the same compound.

Davis said he had no information on whether the building was affiliated with a mosque.

“We did not judge this to be a mosque,” he said. 

Davis also said Pentagon leadership has seen reports of civilian deaths and is “assessing the credibility of those allegations.” 

“Everything that I have seen indicates with certainty that this was a place that was being used to conduct a meeting,” Davis said. “Whether or not it was a part of the mosque, I don’t know. But the main mosque we purposely avoided and this was extensively surveilled prior to the strike that we did and we’re confident that we disrupted a significant meeting of senior al-Qaeda leadership.” 

It is the U.S. military’s policy to not target mosques.

“They’re checking the allegations of civilian casualties; we’re looking for credible evidence,” Davis said.

Should Centcom find any evidence, Davis said, the Pentagon will “take additional steps from there.”