According to the Syrian Permanent Mission to the UN, Friday’s statement stated that Washington must immediately withdraw from the country and make reparations for the killings of many civilians during an 2019 airstrike near Baghuz.
Damascus categorically rejected a Pentagon report claiming it was not at fault for the attack, declaring its conclusions represent “A confession of negligence requires accountability”
According to the Pentagon, Tuesday’s report claimed that an airstrike against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS/ISIL, in Syria’s Baghuz on March 18, 2019, which initially killed 70 civilians, didn’t violate any rules of engagement.
Washington claimed in its final assessment that 56 of those killed by the 500-pound bombing explosion were victims of civilian accidents. The report also claimed that while “The blast radius was too small to affect civilians” resulting in civilian casualties, the decision to drop the massive bomb had “Demonstrated awareness to non-combatants.” However, in determining who was considered a terrorist, it used an Obama-era standard classifying all killed military-age males as combatants by default.
The Syrian mission to the UN dismissed the Pentagon’s conclusions as a “clear attempt to absolve the US occupation forces in Syria of their direct responsibility for civilian casualties under the pretext of fighting the terrorist organization ‘ISIS’” and rejected any claims that “efforts have been made to distinguish between civilians and members of ‘ISIS’” as “There are no justifications” for the murder of civilians.
“The fact of an international crime against humanity was committed in Baghuz cannot be denied by these biased investigations,” the mission told Newsweek on Friday. “All justifications offered by the US government for not violating either the law of war nor the rules of engagement were to avoid the reality that US forces are illegally present in Syria. The US launches military strikes without authorization or coordination by the government.”
The report purports to clear the US military from any wrongdoing. However, it is classified and only a summary of the entire text was made available to the public. The site of the blast itself was quickly bulldozed, and the initial internal reports were “Classified, delayed and sanitized,” according to the New York Times.
The report’s conclusions stood in stark contrast to remarks from US personnel on the ground at the time, with one military analyst reportedly stating that “We just dropped [the 500-pound bomb]Over 50 for women and their children” and others questioning whether they had just witnessed a war crime.
While US Central Command had previously admitted that 80 people had been killed in the strike and just 16 were alleged ISIS terrorists, the military defended its actions by suggesting 60 more could have also been terrorists, since “Sometimes, children and women in Islamic State took to arms.”
The Pentagon’s recent report contradicted even those watered-down findings, admitting only that “The impression was created that administrative shortcomings were a contributing factor to [Department of Defense]This was not treated [civilian casualty]incident serious, wasn’t being transparent and didn’t follow its own protocols” regarding civilian casualty incidents.
No ‘misconduct or negligence’ in US drone strike on Afghan aid worker that killed 7 children, Pentagon probe finds
International civil society groups have eviscerated the Pentagon’s civilian casualty reporting protocols for their toothlessness, most recently following an incident in Afghanistan in which an Afghan NGO worker and nine family members – including seven children – were killed in an airstrike supposedly targeting an ISIS terrorist. That investigation, too, found no “misconduct or negligence” on the part of the killers.