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 has for days following the March 16 strike rejected that a deadly airstrike on the Al-Jinah Mosque was hit and that more than 40 civilians were killed.
Following the strike by US drones and aircraft, the Pentagon insisted that it hit only a building some 40 feet away from the mosque, where it said al Qaeda members were holding a meeting.
“The airstrike took place in between the sunset and the evening prayer, at a time when US officials should have known that there would be people gathering in the mosque,” Deputy Director of HRW’s Middle East and North Africa division, Lama Fakih, told RT in April.
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.