Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin orders review of US airstrike that killed civilians in Syria in 2019

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The review can be performed by Gen. Michael Garrett, the commander of US Army Forces Command. Garrett will review “reports of investigation already conducted” however can even “conduct further inquiry into the facts and circumstances” associated to the incident, Kirby mentioned.

Garrett has 90 days to finish the review, which is able to cowl “civilian casualties that resulted from the incident, compliance with the law of war” and “whether accountability measures would be appropriate,” Kirby added.

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Austin ordered the review after The New York Times revealed an intensive investigation into the airstrike earlier this month. Shortly after the investigation revealed, US Central Command, the half of the US navy that oversees forces in the Middle East, publicly acknowledged that civilians, together with girls and kids, had been killed in the 2019 airstrike.

The quantity of civilians killed is unknown however US Central Command acknowledged it was “multiple civilians.”

On March 18, 2019, the US-allied Syrian Democratic Forces referred to as for air help once they got here beneath assault from ISIS forces, Capt. Bill Urban, spokesman for US Central Command, mentioned in a press release. US and coalition forces surrounded the final ISIS holdout in Baghouz, Syria, however in the ultimate days of combating ISIS launched a counterattack, utilizing small arms, rocket-propelled grenades and suicide bombings.

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The solely plane on location succesful of finishing up the strikes was an F-15, Urban mentioned. At the identical time, the one unmanned aerial car overhead was succesful of recording solely standard-definition video. Other plane and UAVs succesful of recording high-definition video, which might have supplied a clearer image of the battlefield, had left the world after hours of combating.

Syrian Democratic Forces fighters, the closest US particular operations forces and the UAV flying above the battlefield reported or noticed no civilians in the world earlier than the airstrike was performed, Urban mentioned. The F-15 then dropped three 500-pound precision-guided bombs, probably killing dozens of folks.

Several hours after the strikes, the UAV operator reported attainable civilians in the world when the bombs had been dropped, Urban mentioned.

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The acknowledgment of the civilian casualties was the primary time the Defense Department had publicly disclosed that civilians could have been killed because of this of the 2019 airstrike.

The revelation comes because the Department of Defense is dealing with elevated scrutiny over its dealing with of civilian casualties following a drone strike in Afghanistan in late August that killed 10 civilians, together with seven kids. A review of the botched strike in Kabul discovered that “execution errors” led to what Pentagon officers had referred to as a “tragic mistake” and that the killings didn’t violate the legislation of battle, however it left the query of accountability as much as the combatant instructions.

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CNN’s Oren Liebermann contributed to this report.

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