An investigation into a 2019 attack by US forces in Syria that killed countless civilians found no policy violations or willful negligence, the Pentagon said Tuesday.
The US military’s internal investigation focused on an operation by a US special force operating in Syria that launched an airstrike on an Islamic State bastion in Baghouz on March 18, 2019.
The investigation was sparked last year after the DailyExpertNews reported that the US military covered up dozens of non-combatant deaths in the original attack.
The Times report said 70 people, many of them women and children, had died in the strike.
The Times report said a US legal officer “labelled the strike as a possible war crime” and that “at almost every step the military made moves that disguised the catastrophic attack.”
But the investigation’s final report rejected that conclusion Tuesday.
It said the US ground force commander for the anti-Muslim state coalition has received a request for air strike support from Syrian Democratic Forces fighting the extremists.
The commander “was confirmed that there were no civilians in the attack area” and authorized the attack.
However, they later found out that civilians were at the site.
“There have been no violations of the Rules of Engagement or the laws of war,” the investigation said.
In addition, the commander “has not intentionally or with wanton disregard caused civilian casualties,” he said.
The report said “administrative shortcomings” delayed US military reporting on the strike, giving the impression that it was being covered up.
The Times quoted an initial assessment of the incident and said about 70 civilians could have been killed.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said 52 fighters were killed, 51 of them adult men and one child, while four civilians, one woman and three children, died.
Another 15 civilians, 11 women and four children, were injured, he said.
When asked if anyone was being punished for the civilian deaths, Kirby said the investigation did not show the need to hold individuals accountable.
The probe “did not find that anyone was acting outside the laws of war, that there was no malicious intent,” Kirby said.
“While we don’t always do everything right, we try to improve. We try to be as transparent as possible about what we learn,” he said.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by DailyExpertNews staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)