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U.S.’ March airstrike hit mosque in Syria: Report

A plume of smoke rises above a building during an air strike in Tikrit March 27, 2015. U.S. and coalition forces conducted 10 air strikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq during a 24-hour period, while U.S. forces led six air strikes in Syria, the U.S. military said on Friday. Three of the strikes in Iraq were near Tikrit, destroying vehicles and a potential car bomb. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Washington: A U.S. military probe has confirmed that the March 16 U.S. airstrike had actually hit a mosque in Syria.

Citing two defence officials, the CNN reported that “a US Central Command investigation found that a March U.S. airstrike in northern Syria did in fact strike a building that was part of a mosque complex”.

The Pentagon had initially insisted that the airstrike had only hit a building some 40 feet away from the mosque, where it said al Qaeda members were holding a meeting.

The CNN quoted defence officials as saying that though the U.S. unwittingly bombed the building, but “the investigation found that the facility had been used for religious purposes in the past”.

During the conflict and war like situations, religious structures, hospitals and schools are not allowed to be targeted unless impeccable information of terrorists using them.

The CNN report said that “it is also not clear if the building was listed as a religious site on a database that the mission planners were unaware of”.

According to defence officials, the U.S. still believed the building was being used by al Qaeda the time of the strike.

“But neither would say if the building had ever been on a no-strike list, or had been removed from such a list,” said the report.

After the US strike, the Human Rights Watch and the social media cried hoarse that the strike actually hit a mosque.

However, the Pentagon denied that a mosque was hit and that there were civilian casualties.

The day after the strike, Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters: “We do not currently assess there were any civilian casualties.” (ANI)