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Syria: US Attack Allegedly Kills Civilian After Targeting Al-Qaida Leader

By 05/09/2023 8:24 PMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff

A military official said in a statement on Tuesday that the U.S. military is looking into claims that it killed a civilian in a recent strike in northwest Syria that was intended to target a senior al-Qaida leader.

The relatives and neighbors informed the Associated Press of a 60-year-old man murdered on May 3 in the attack in the hamlet of Qorqanya, a rural area in the northern Idlib province, that he was a farmer who kept sheep, chickens, and calves and had no connection to armed organizations.

The U.S. government issued its initial statement on the day of the strike. Without providing any other information, Central Command, or CENTCOM, stated that US forces had “conducted a unilateral strike… targeting a senior Al Qaeda leader.”

A CENTCOM spokeswoman, Maj. John Moore stated on Tuesday that American forces “are in the process of confirming the identity of the individual killed in the strike.”

We are aware of the claims of a civilian casualty, and the results of the confirmation procedure will determine whether or not further investigation is required and how it should proceed, the official said.

The White Helmets, a local civil defense organization in northwest Syria, said in a statement that it had hurried to the scene after hearing explosion sounds and discovered that a drone attack had killed local citizen Lutfi Hassan Masto, 60, who was minding his sheep at the time. According to the statement, three of the animals were also put to death.

Mohamed Masto, Masto’s brother, told The Associated Press that the allegations that his brother was an al-Qaida member were “absolute lies” and that his death was “an injustice and an aggression.”

“He was unrelated to the revolution. According to Masto, he was not affiliated with the Al-Nusra Front, the Islamic State, or any other armed organizations fighting in Syria’s 12-year civil war.

Neighbor Fayad Jamil Raji claimed to have known Lufti Masto, also known as “Abu Hassan” or “father of Hassan,” for a long time.

The man was a layperson. The man claimed he had sheep, cows, and chickens on his farm.

The missions of CENTCOM, according to Moore, are “carefully planned and carried out to maximize success and reduce the risk of collateral damage.”

At least 900 American soldiers and an unspecified number of contractors are working alongside the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria on any given day.

They are charged with stopping a resurgence of the Islamic State organization, which raced through Iraq and Syria in 2014 and seized control of significant portions of the country. Occasionally, they may also attack other militant organizations.

CENTCOM said in April that it had participated in 35 missions in Iraq and Syria, where it had killed 13 accused IS members and detained 28 others.



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